Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Article by Sylvie Corbet and Zeke Miller of The Associated Press for DefenseNews
Oct 29 2021
ROME — Working to patch things up with an old ally, President Joe Biden told French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday that the U.S. had been “clumsy” in its handling of a secret U.S.-British submarine deal with Australia, an arrangement that left France in the lurch and rattled Europe’s faith in American loyalty.
Biden and Macron greeted each other with handshakes and shoulder grabs before their first face-to-face meeting since the deal was publicly announced in September, marking the latest American effort to try to smooth hurt French sensibilities. Biden didn’t formally apologize to Macron, but conceded the U.S. should not have caught its oldest ally by surprise.
“I think what happened was — to use an English phrase — what we did was clumsy,” Biden said, adding the submarine deal “was not done with a lot of grace.”
“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before,” he added.
The U.S.-led submarine contract supplanted a prior French deal to supply Australia with its own diesel-powered submarines. The U.S. argued that the move, which will arm the Pacific ally with higher-quality nuclear-powered boats, will better enable Australia to contain Chinese encroachment in the region.
Macron said the two allies would develop “stronger cooperation” to prevent a similar misunderstanding from happening again.
“We clarified together what we had to clarify,” he added, when asked if U.S.-France relations had been repaired. “What really matters now is what we will do together in the coming weeks, the coming months, the coming years,” he said.
To that end, Macron’s goal for the meeting was securing greater U.S. intelligence and military cooperation supporting French anti-terrorist operations in the Sahel region of Africa.
Macron praised Biden’s “very operational, very concrete decisions” in recent weeks that helped the French military fighting Islamic extremists in the Sahel.
Biden and Macron also discussed new ways to cooperate in the Indo-Pacific, a move meant to soothe French tempers over being excised from the U.S.-U.K.-Australia partnership that accompanied the submarine deal. Other topics on the agenda include China, Afghanistan and Iran, as well as climate change, before next week’s UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
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However, in an article dated 2nd November by Cameron Stewart - Associate Editor for The Australian a different story has emerged with this headline:
"How Joe Biden threw Australian PM Scott Morrison under the bus"
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In another article for by Joe Gould for DefenseNews dated Oct 29 2021, former Australian PM Abbott says "China could invade Taiwan ‘soon’ .
Here are the highlights:
WASHINGTON ― A former Australian prime minister said Friday he thinks China could “soon” invade Taiwan or otherwise escalate the situation and that the West should now be planning its military and economic response.
“I think we need to be prepared to think the unthinkable,” former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a Wilson Center event here.
“I think it’s highly possible that at some point in time, perhaps quite soon, China might up the ante, either with a blockade of the so-called rebel province ― to teach the Taiwanese that they ... need to make some kind of an accommodation with Beijing ― or perhaps even a full-scale invasion,” he added.
Abbott earlier this month made geopolitical waves when he accused China of being a bully and expressed enthusiastic support for Taiwan while visiting the democratically ruled island.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up military harassment of the island by flying fighter jets toward Taiwan ― a trend Abbott said he expects to “get more intense.”
Abbott sees Chinese leader Xi Jinping as emboldened by the West’s mild reaction to China’s takeover of Hong Kong. Unlike Hong Kong, Taiwan would offer military resistance, but it would still need outside backing, he said.
“In the absence of support from others, the Taiwanese might regard it as an unequal and ultimately hopeless struggle. And that’s why I think it’s important for Taiwan’s fellow democracies to provide all the solidarity that we can,” Abbott said.
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U.S. President Joe Biden, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron walk to a meeting at La Villa Bonaparte in Rome, Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. A Group of 20 summit scheduled for this weekend in Rome is the first in-person gathering of leaders of the world's biggest economies since the COVID-19 pandemic started. (Evan Vucci/AP)