Submarine crisis: what Macron and Johnson said to each other on the phone

An outstretched hand. After 10 days of tension, linked to the Australian submarine crisis and the breach of the “contract of the century”, Boris Johnson took a first step towards Emmanuel Macron on Friday.

In a telephone interview, the head of the British government and the French president “reaffirmed the importance of the relationship between France and the United Kingdom and agreed to continue to work closely all over the world”, according to Downing Street.

At odds over multiple subjects (fishing, immigration, etc.), Paris nevertheless keeps its distance. Insisting that the initiative came from London, the Elysee Palace assured that Boris Johnson had expressed “his intention to re-establish cooperation between France and the United Kingdom, in accordance with our values ​​and our common interests (climate, Indo-Pacific, fight against terrorism) “. “The president told him that he was waiting for his proposals,” the same source continued dryly.

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“The announcement of the AUKUS alliance was a shock”, recalled Friday Florence Parly, on the sidelines of a meeting in Stockholm with some of her counterparts, including a British representative. “We are awaiting clarification” from “an ally and a European country”. A bilateral meeting this week between French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and her counterpart Ben Wallace was canceled in retaliation. But the ambassador in London had not been recalled by Paris, unlike those posted in Canberra (Australia) and Washington (United States).

“Give me a break”

The tone adopted this Friday is in any case more conciliatory than at the beginning of the week, when Boris Johnson had asked his ally – in “Fr English” – to pull himself together and to “give me a break” (“Give me a break” , “Let me breathe”).

Between the French and the Americans also the diplomatic crisis – one of the most serious between these two historic allies – has started to ease. A call on Wednesday between Emmanuel Macron and his American counterpart Joe Biden made it possible to resume dialogue, without however fully restoring confidence, and paved the way for the return to Washington of French ambassador Philippe Etienne.

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The United States on Thursday promised “acts” to overcome this crisis with France, while conceding, like Paris, that it would take “time”. Continuing to advance his pawns in the Indo-Pacific region, Joe Biden receives the Prime Ministers of India, Japan and Australia on Friday in order to discuss a more “informal” alliance, the “Quad”, between these four countries . The meeting should above all focus on economic and environmental projects, and on the fight against the pandemic.


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