PARIS (AP) — European nations must boost their defense plans and make themselves “respected,” French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday as his country opens talks with the United States following a submarine contract dispute that led to a diplomatic crisis.
“Europeans must come out of their naivety,” Macron said during a news conference in Paris where he spoke publicly for the first time about a Indo-Pacific defense deal among the U.S., Australia and Britain that sank a multi-billion French contract.
“When we are under pressure,...showing that we also have power and the capacity to defend ourselves...is simply making ourselves be respected.”
As part of the pact, Australia will cancel a contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and acquire U.S. nuclear-powered vessels instead. In an unprecedented move, France recalled its ambassador to the U.S. in response.
Ambassador Philippe Etienne will go back to Washington on Wednesday with a “clear mandate,” Macron said. He stressed he and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed last week in a phone call to open in-depth consultations aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence between the longtime allies.
Macron said he is to talk again with Biden in mid-October, before a scheduled in-person meeting at the end of next month in Europe.
A French senior official said no date has been set yet for the return of the French ambassador to Australia, who also was recalled. He spoke anonymously in accordance with the French presidency’s customary practices.
The official said Macron has not spoken with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison since the defense deal was announced but that the French leader was ready to hold discussions at some point on the condition they were “being prepared in a serious manner.”