U.S. President Joe Biden has told France’s Emmanuel Macron that the U.S. was “clumsy” about the security deal between the UK, the U.S. and Australia, which lost billions to France.
It was the first meeting between the two leaders since the Aukus agreement – which allows Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines – was agreed.
The opening caused controversy with France, which lost a $ 37 billion deal with Australia.
Macron said it is important to look to the future.
The meeting of the Presidents was held at the French Vatican Embassy in Rome, Villa Bonaparte.
It was part of a series of meetings between the President of the United States and world leaders ahead of this weekend’s G20 summit of major economies and next week’s UN Climate Summit COP26 in Scotland.
“What we did was clumsy,” Mr. Biden said. “I had the impression that France had been told long before that the agreement would not go through, honest with God.”
The Aukus agreement, which also covers artificial intelligence and other technologies, is one of Australia’s largest defense partnerships for decades and is seen as an attempt to oppose China.
It violated an agreement signed by Australia in 2016 to build 12 conventional submarines in France.
At the time, the French Secretary of State called the security agreement a “stab in the back,” and France temporarily recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia.
Speaking about Biden’s meeting on Friday, Macron told reporters: “Trust is like love, declarations are good, but the evidence is better.” The two leaders also spoke on climate change, the fight against terrorism in West Africa and European defense.
The first meeting of Biden’s Day was in the Vatican, where he praised Pope Francis for his leadership in the fight against climate change.
During the 90-minute meeting, Mr Biden thanked the Pope for his advocacy on behalf of the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger and persecution. He also praised the Pope’s leadership on the climate crisis and pandemic.
Biden donated a special coin to Pope Francis and called him “the most significant peace warrior I have ever met.”
On the reverse of the coin was the emblem of the National Guard Unit of the Delaware Army, the unit where the president’s late son, Beau Biden, served.
He joked that if the pope did not have a coin with him at his next meeting, he would have to “buy drinks.”
Pope Francis gave Mr. Biden a ceramic tile and his recent writings on Catholic teaching.
After meeting with the Pope, Biden met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
In a message previously recorded for the BBC, the pope called on world leaders to agree at COP26 on a meaningful agreement that offers “concrete hope” for future generations.