While traveling in France this week, U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry told a French broadcaster that the President of the United States was “literally” not aware of the foreign crisis that recently occurred when France pulled its diplomat from the U.S.
France was livid after after the U.S. struck a multi-billion dollar deal with Australia for submarines, excluding France.
“President Biden asked me about it, and I told him, and expressed–,” stated John Kerry in an interview with the French cable channel BFMTV.
The interviewer jumped in, saying, “You told Joe Biden that it was not the right–,”
To which the former Presidential candidate and current climate envoy responded, “He asked me. He said, ‘what’s the situation?’ and I explained exactly, uh. He wasn’t, he had not been aware of that. He literally had not been aware of what had transpired and I don’t want to go into the details of it, but suffice it to say, that the president, my president is very committed to strengthening the relationship and making sure that this is a small event of the past and moving on to the much more important future.”
Last month, France pulled its ambassador from the U.S. after the U.S. and U.K. struck a deal with Australia for nuclear submarines to help counter the threat from China in the Pacific region.
The alliance, known as the AUKUS agreement, is worth an estimated 50 billion euros. Though billions was originally intended for France, Australia choose to sign a deal to buy submarines from the U.S. and the U.K. instead.
French leaders said they considered the switch a kind of betrayal with the French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian telling Franceinfo that it was, “A stab in the back. We had established a trusting relationship with Australia, and this trust was betrayed,” he explained.
“This is not over,” he said. “We’re going to need clarifications. We have contracts. The Australians need to tell us how they’re getting out of it. We’re going to need explanation. We have an intergovernmental deal that we signed with great fanfare in 2019, with precise commitments, with clauses, how are they getting out of it? They’re going to have to tell us. So this is not the end of the story.”
The betrayal was so acute, as France saw it, that French President Macron responded by planned gala in the U.S.