France to return ambassador to Washington after Biden’s call to Macron in wake of major military contract snub

The French ambassador to the US, recalled recently over the AUKUS row, will return to Washington next week, President Emmanuel Macron has announced after a phone call with his US counterpart Joe Biden.

Biden phoned Macron on Wednesday to discuss last week’s announcement of a new security pact between the US, UK and Australia – which resulted in France losing a multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding contract, among other things – and “agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners,” according to a joint statement released by both the White House and the Elysee Palace.

Biden “conveyed his ongoing commitment” to such consultations, the statement said.

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French navy nuclear attack submarine Suffren. © AFP / Naval Group; (inset) Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. © AFP / DAN KITWOOD
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The two presidents will meet at the end of October in Europe, “in order to reach shared understandings and maintain momentum in this process.” The French ambassador – recalled to Paris for consultations on Friday – will return to Washington “next week” per Macron’s decision, the statement said, where he will “start intensive work” with US officials.

According to the joint statement, Biden “reaffirms the strategic importance of French and European engagement in the Indo-Pacific region” and “also recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense, that contributes positively to transatlantic and global security and is complementary to NATO.”

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