The White House scrubbed a cutting remark made by French President Emanuel Macron to Joe Biden about ‘abandoning’ Afghanistan in a summary of the leaders’ call.
France’s official ‘readout’ of the August 19 call highlighted how Marcon had upbraided his US counterpart over his sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan, which has triggered chaos as Americans and Afghans granted visas try to flee the Taliban.
It read: ‘President Macron spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden this evening about the situation in Afghanistan.
‘He underscored the absolute need for swift, concrete coordination between the allies to ensure the evacuation of our citizens, Afghan men and women who worked for the allies, and those who are in danger.
‘The head of state emphasized our collective moral responsibility toward the Afghan men and women who need our protection and who share our values.
‘We cannot abandon them.
‘The two presidents agreed to strengthen their efforts in the humanitarian and political arenas and on counterterrorism in the days to come, particularly within the framework of the G7.
The readout stated that French President Emmanuel Macron had ‘underscored the absolute need for swift, concrete coordination between the allies to ensure the evacuation of our citizens, Afghan men and women who worked for the allies, and those who are in danger’ to Biden
The readout from The White House was much more conciliatory and pointed at the joint efforts by Macron and Biden to assist Afghanistan
‘It is absolutely urgent and it is a collective responsibility, for which the U.S. President assured President Macron of his support,’ read the statement.’
But the White House’s readout of the same call, published on its official website, omitted Macron’s remark about not abandoning Afghanistan.
It said: ‘President Joe Biden and President Emmanuel Macron of France spoke today about developments in Afghanistan.
‘They lauded the tireless efforts of their personnel working closely together in Kabul on the evacuation of their citizens, the brave Afghans who have stood by us and our NATO partners, and other vulnerable Afghan nationals.
‘They underscored the importance of continued close coordination among allies and democratic partners on Afghanistan, including through multilateral for a, on the provision of humanitarian assistance and support for refugees. They welcomed the virtual G7 leaders’ meeting next week to help coordinate these efforts and discuss a common approach.’
The discrepancy between the two readouts was first reported by Breitbart, which highlighted how governments will often tweak their summaries to ensure diplomacy.
That has sparked claims that Macron and his government wanted his attempt at shaming Biden left in the readout in a bid to display their disdain for the withdrawal.
The French readout of the call is a detour from Macron and Biden’s diplomatic relationship.
Just over a month ago, Macron and Biden were shown smiling and shaking hands at the G7 summit, while they praised each other’s commitment to fight COVID-19.
‘As we say in the States, we [Biden and Macron] are on the same page,’ said Biden in a sideline interview with the Associated Press.
Macron said: ‘It’s good to have the US government in the team…I think what you [Biden] have demonstrated is that leadership is partnership.’
Macron and Biden are pictured in Brussels in June, with a pointed remark the French president made to his US counterpart revealed in a summary of an August 19 call they shared
Biden and Marcon looked relaxed and happy to be in each other’s company during the G7 leaders’ summit in Cornwall, England, in June – but their relationship has since taken a dip
The two leaders are pictured looking smiling and relaxed while walking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
The call for ‘concrete coordination between the allies’ comes after Biden received a slew of backlash last week for not talking with any world leaders in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover.
‘He has not yet spoken with any other world leaders,’ said US security advisor Jake Sullivan during a briefing with reporters on August 17.
Hours after reports came out attacking him for his inaction, Biden spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. More calls followed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, and President Pedro Sánchez of Spain.
The hasty retreat and Biden’s tardiness in communicating with allies and the American public has also been criticized by former American officials.
‘It has damaged our alliances, emboldened our adversaries and increased the risk to our own security. It has also flouted 20 years of work and sacrifice,’ said Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Afghanistan under Obama’s administration, in a New York Times essay.
This week Biden will join a virtual meeting of the G7 to discuss cooperation between the nations as the Taliban overruns Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in her statement on the upcoming meeting.
‘The leaders will discuss continuing our close coordination on Afghanistan policy and evacuating our citizens, the brave Afghans who stood with us over the last two decades, and other vulnerable Afghans,’ Psaki’s statement reads.
The G7 intergovernmental group includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
Britain currently holds the rotating leadership of the G7 and announced earlier on Sunday that it called for the group to meet virtually this week.
The meeting comes as chaos in Afghanistan continues to unfold, and nations scramble to evacuate their citizens from Kabul.
Biden has relentlessly insisted that the botched exit of American troops from Afghanistan could not have been avoided, with his administration’s top intelligence officials blaming the Afghan army’s fast surrender to the Taliban.
Biden has been criticized for his response after the Taliban took over Kabul in just a matter of days, and his tardiness to communicate with world leaders
A U.S. Marine carries a girl to the gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport, August 20, 2021
People gathered at the Place de la Republique to alert the international community to the situation in Afghanistan, and to demand that France respects its commitments to accept Afghans who are fleeing their country after the Taliban takeover
A U.S. Marine comforts an infant while they wait for the mother during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan
‘I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world,’ Biden said on Friday.
In recent days, however, it appears Biden has admitted the nature of the withdrawal and the imminent reality that the deadline for full withdrawal, September 11, might have to be postpone to aid Afghan citizens and US nationals trying to flee the Taliban.
‘Let me be clear – the evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful,’ Biden said during a speech in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
‘No matter when it started, when we began, it would have been true if we had started a month ago, or a month from now.
‘There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain and loss and heartbreaking images you see on television.
‘It’s just a fact,’ he said.
His speech marked the latest attempt by the White House to seize control of a crisis that is rapidly turning into a humanitarian and political disaster.
A similar effort on Friday backfired when Biden claimed that he knew of no cases of Americans being stopped from reaching Kabul airport – only to be flatly contradicted by the Pentagon.
Things have only worsened since then, with reports that seven people died in the crush around the airport, including a two-year-old.
U.S. President Joe Biden and France’s President Emmanuel Macron shake hands as they attend a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall
U.S.President Joe Biden and France’s President Emmanuel Macron walk along the boardwalk during the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, Britain. A call readout between the two leaders point at France’s criticism of the US hasty retreat from Afghanistan
Hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan
Defense officials ‘hope’ they will not have to extend the evacuation operation, he added, but ‘there are going to be discussions I suspect on how far along we are in the process.’
He also said troops were maintaining constant vigilance against terrorist threats, particularly from the local affiliate of ISIS, sworn enemies of the both the U.S. and the Taliban.
Conditions deteriorated further at the weekend. The U.S. was forced to tell Americans not to try to brave the chaos around the airport unless they have been told to report.
And it emerged that evacuation flights were dropping flares and making steep combat landings after warnings that terrorists of the Islamic State might try to shoot down a plane.
Biden is still facing questions about why his administration did not have a better evacuation plan after being warned that the Taliban could sweep into Kabul within days.