French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Wednesday that a dispute with the US over the Australian submarine deal is not resolved despite Washington entering into a dialogue with Paris.
“The crisis is serious, it is not resolved just because we have resumed dialogue and it will last. To get out of it we will need acts rather than words,” Le Drian said.
France lost a $66 billion submarine contract with Australia due to AUKUS, the new military pact between the US, the UK, and Australia that gives Canberra nuclear submarines. The French didn’t learn about the deal until the day it was announced.
The Biden administration has been on a diplomatic blitz to smooth things over with France. In Paris on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with French President Emmanuel Macron and was very apologetic.
“We could and we should have communicated better,” Blinken said in an interview after meeting with Macron. “We sometimes tend to take for granted a relationship as important and deep as the one that links France and the United States.”
AUKUS is meant to counter China in the Indo-Pacific, an area that stretches from India to the eastern Pacific. France is not upset over the implications the pact has for militarizing the region but instead feels left out.
Le Drian said negotiations with the US that will be resumed with a meeting between Biden and Macron later this month will focus on three points. One point is the “strategic importance” of France and Europe’s role in the Indo-Pacific. France has stepped up its military activity in the region this year and sent a nuclear submarine into the South China Sea back in February.
Another point France will discuss with the US is the idea of a stronger European defense. Le Drian said the third point will be how the US can help France in its wars in Africa’s Sahel region.