President Joe Biden emphasized the partnership American democracy shares with the world as he sat down with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday amid tensions with the French.
The two men met amid French anger at the new US-UK-Australian partnership and Paris losing out on a $90 billion sub deal in the process, which resulted in the country pulling its ambassadors from the United States and Australia.
Both Biden and Morrison emphasized their partnership was in the best interest of the world. The AUKUS deal, as it has been dubbed, is part of American moves to counter China’s growing power in the Pacific region.
‘The issues we discussed and our partnership today really do reach out to so many others in terms of how we address the global challenges,’ Morrison said as he met with Biden at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York
Biden agreed. ‘It goes well beyond just our partnership. Our partnership is in line with all the other democracies in the world. And we got a lot of work to do,’ he noted.
‘The United States has no closer and more reliable ally than Australia,’ he said.
President Joe Biden emphasized the partnership American democracy shares with the world as he sat down with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Biden is attempting to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron amid French anger at new US-UK-Australia pact
Neither man responded to questions from reporters about the French anger. Biden has yet to address the situation and is attempting to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron.
‘We’re still working on the scheduling of it — with President Macron in the coming days,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday.
‘And what I expect the President will do on that call is reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners on a range of challenges that the global community is facing,’ she noted.
Biden did say on Tuesday the situation in the Indo-Pacific would be part of his conversation with Morrison.
‘We have a big agenda discussed today, starting with our partnership to advance our vision of a free and open Indo Pacific, and this conversation that we’re going to continue with Japan, India, India on Friday,’ he said.
Biden will host a Quad summit at the White House on Friday with Morrison, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide.
‘But it’s not just about our partnership because our partnership reaches out to so many others, whether it be our friends in in the ASEAN nations, or in Europe or elsewhere, where we share so many like minded interests,’ the president noted.
China is also furious at the deal.
Beijing claims it has ‘intensified’ the arms race and state media has warned that it ‘will potentially make Australia a target of a nuclear strike if war breaks out.’
As part of the deal, Britain and the US have agreed to provide Australia with nuclear submarine technology, largely-viewed as an effort to counter Chinese expansion in the South China Sea where it lays claim to several disputed islands.
But Johnson told NBC’s Today Show of China’s objections: ‘I think that’s ridiculous. And there’s no need whatsoever for anybody to construe this as adversarial towards them. This is about technology transfer.’
President Joe Biden did not answer questions from reporters on the French anger
It comes as Germany today backed France in a converging diplomatic row over the Australian decision to tear up its $90 billion contract with Paris for diesel-electric submarines, in favor of the nuclear submarines from the Aukus deal.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who has developed close ties with the Biden administration, told reporters at the UN: ‘I can understand our French friends’ anger.’
‘What was decided, and the manner in which it was decided, was irritating and disappointing, and not only for France,’ he added.
Macron is not at the UN meeting. And French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has not scheduled the usual one-on-one meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken while in New York.
The French said on Monday they would be expecting compensation for the shredded submarine deal, estimated to be as much as $290 million.
Morrison claims that he had raised ‘issues’ about the contract ‘many months ago’ amid French criticism they did not have enough prior warning to the deal.
Johnson meanwhile went on the charm offensive as he insisted that Britain and France enjoyed an ‘indestructible’ relationship.
‘The UK and France have, I believe, a very, very important, and indestructible relationship,’ he told reporters in New York.
‘And of course we’ll be talking to all our friends about how to make the Aukus pact work so that it’s not exclusionary, it’s not divisive and it really doesn’t have to be that way.’
The running disputes of the French and the Chinese comes as world leaders are converging on the Big Apple for a United Nations conference, with a focus on the fight against climate change and Covid-19.
The US tried to dissuade leaders from coming to New York in a bid to stop the General Assembly from becoming a ‘super-spreader event,’ although Joe Biden will address the assembly in person, his first UN visit since taking office.
A so-called UN honor system means that anyone entering the assembly hall effectively declares they are vaccinated, but they do not have to show proof.