ROME — Working to patch things up with an old ally, President Joe Biden told French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday that the U.S. had been “clumsy” in its handling of a secret U.S.-British submarine deal with Australia, an arrangement that left France in the lurch and rattled Europe’s faith in American loyalty.
Biden and Macron greeted each other with handshakes and shoulder grabs before their first face-to-face meeting since the deal was publicly announced in September, marking the latest American effort to try to smooth hurt French sensibilities. Biden didn’t formally apologize to Macron, but conceded the U.S. should not have caught its oldest ally by surprise.
“I think what happened was — to use an English phrase — what we did was clumsy,” Biden said, adding the submarine deal “was not done with a lot of grace.”
“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before,” he added.
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