Defense

Kerry: Biden ‘had not been fully aware’ of submarine deal’s impact on France

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President Biden “had not been fully aware” of the negative impact a U.S. submarine deal between the United Kingdom and Australia had on France after it was announced, according to John Kerry the special presidential envoy for climate. 

“He literally had not been aware of what had transpired,” Kerry said in an interview with French broadcaster BFMTV that aired Monday.

France became outraged last month after the Biden administration revealed a submarine deal between the U.S., U.K. and Australian governments, which sidelined a separate $40 billion submarine deal that France formed with Australia in 2016.  

In response, France angrily canceled a planned gala in Washington, D.C., and temporarily recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia.

Kerry said Biden became aware of the situation after he asked the former Secretary of State what had transpired. 

“I don’t want to go into the details of it, but suffice to say…the president is very committed to strengthening the relationship and making sure that this is a small event of the past and moving on to the much more important future,” Kerry said.

“We have a relationship with France that is so much bigger than this moment.”

Kerry, who spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, said the two countries understand they “have so much to work on.”

“I’m absolutely confident that the bigger issues we have to work on about nuclear weapons, about cyber warfare, about climate…. We have a lot of work to do and we can’t get lost in a momentary event that I think we will get past very quickly.” 

Kerry gave the interview prior to a meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Macron on Tuesday, when the two sides discussed ways to move forward from the snub, including possible U.S.-French cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and other regions.

A spokesperson for Kerry later said in a statement to The Hill that in speaking about Biden being unaware, he “was clearly referring to French sentiment,” and not to the details or decision making regarding AUKUS.

“He has consistently reiterated in both public and private that U.S.-French cooperation is essential to confronting the climate crisis,” they added.

Tags Antony Blinken Australian submarine deal Emmanuel Macron Joe Biden John Kerry Nuclear submarine

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