At the height of the Aukus affair, Emmanuel Macron made Joe Biden wait seven days before speaking to him on the phone. Friday, October 29 in Rome, the American president allowed himself an hour and a half delay before meeting his French counterpart in the hope of ending the quarrel caused by the announcement, in mid-September, of the defense pact between the States. United, Australia and the United Kingdom, negotiated in secret to the detriment of France.
Should this be seen as a sign of progress in relations between the two men? Without apologizing, Joe Biden recognized, in a brief public exchange before their tête-à-tête, a way of doing things “Clumsy” and “A lack of elegance” towards Paris from its partners. Multiplying sweet words, the Democrat said his “Great affection” with regard to France, “America’s oldest ally… thanks to which we exist”. After many handshakes, Mr. Macron remained more sober, wishing to “Look to the future” and just talking about “The start of a process of trust”.
Everything had been done to smooth things over between the two leaders. The meeting was preceded by intense negotiations in recent weeks with the Biden administration to defuse the black anger aroused in Paris by the Anglo-Saxon three-party alliance, which torpedoed the sale of French submarines in Canberra for the benefit of American nuclear-powered ships. Failing to welcome Joe Biden in Paris, the French diplomats had insisted a lot that the reunion take place in a “French influence” in the Italian capital, just before the opening on Saturday of the G20 summit.
The meeting was also held in a most peaceful setting: the Villa Bonaparte, where the French Embassy near the Vatican is located. The 18th century palacee century, formerly owned by the Bonaparte family, is surrounded by a pleasant tree-lined garden. After a brief appearance in front of the press, Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden had a tête-à-tête in the “great gallery” of the palace, then a working meeting in the adjoining “dining room”, in the presence of their ministers of foreign affairs and finance. The exchanges lasted 90 minutes. And resulted in a long joint statement, more substantiated than that of September 22, the date of their first appeal after the dispute, but above all rich in statements of principle.
It is of course a question of the three main subjects outlined during the preparatory consultations. First, European defense. “The United States recognizes the importance of a stronger and more operational European defense, which contributes positively to global and transatlantic security and is complementary with NATO”, note the text, before calling “To the strengthening of the strategic partnership between the EU [Union européenne] et l’OTAN ».
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Between Biden and Macron, a difficult reconciliation after the Aukus agreement