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Biden meets Macron, seeks to rebuild trust

US President Joe Biden met his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron seeking to rebuild the trust between the two countries eroded by a nuclear-powered submarine deal.

Friday’s meeting took place at the French Embassy in the Vatican on the eve of the 16th G20 Leaders’ Summit, marking the first in-person discussion between the two leaders after a diplomatic firestorm was triggered in September, when the US and the UK said they would support the Australian Navy in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines under a newly formed trilateral security pact known as AUKUS, depriving France of an existing contract to provide 12 conventional submarines to Canberra.

Outraged by the abrupt move taken without consultations, France recalled its Ambassadors to the US and Australia in protest.

“I think what happened was, to use an English phrase, what we did was, clumsy. It was not done with a lot of grace,” Biden admitted while claiming that he was under the impression that Paris had been informed long before that the French deal was not going through.

While recognising the recent concrete measures taken to rebuild trust between France and the US, Macron insisted that France’s trust needed to be regained by deeds, not words.

Hesitating to confirm if the mistrust has been overcome or the US-France bilateral relationship has been repaired, Macron said “what really matters now is what we will do together in the coming weeks, the coming months, the coming years”.

“Trust is like love: Declarations are good, but proof is better,” he said.