Throughout a conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, US Vice President Joe Biden said the US was “clumsy” in orchestrating a covert US-British submarine pact with Australia.
Just hours before the AUKUS alliance was revealed, Australia cancelled a $90 billion contract with France, under which the UK and US would give Australia with nuclear-powered submarines instead of ordinarily French submarines.
France was taken aback by the deal, which they termed as a knife in the back.
Mr. Biden did not publicly apologize to Mr. Macron, but he did admit that the US should not have surprised its longest partner.
“I believe, to use an English expression, what transpired was sloppy,” Mr Biden said, adding that the submarine deal “was not done with a lot of elegance.” He went on to say, “I was under the notion that France had been notified long ago.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said that the “clumsy” statement was more proof that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had handled the crisis badly.
He said that the US President was forced to remove Australia’s mess.
Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney, “This is a prime minister who presided over a significant difficulty with our relationship with France, and it looks that this has caused problems with our relationship with the United States as well.”
The remarks came a day after Mr. Macron and Mr. Morrison spoke on the phone for the first time since the agreement was reached.
Mr Macron informed Mr Morrison that the cancellation of the French contract had shattered confidence and that it was ultimately up to Australia to mend the relationship via “concrete acts.”
The US contended that arming Australia with higher-quality nuclear-powered boats will help the Pacific ally better limit Chinese advance in the region.
Mr Macron stated that the two partners will build “stronger coordination” to avoid a repeat of the mistake.
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