Jet-setting climate envoy John Kerry is claiming President Biden had no idea that the US-UK-Australia submarine deal would upset the French government and “had not been aware of what had transpired” — as the secretary of state visits Paris in an effort to ease the diplomatic tensions.
Kerry, secretary of state in the Obama administration, was asked in an interview on French television about the Biden administration’s agreement with Australia even though France already had a $40 billion deal with Australia for 12 submarines.
“President Biden asked me about it, and I told him and expressed…,” Kerry said, according to the National Review.
“You told Joe Biden that it was not the right…,” the interview said.
”He asked me. He said, ‘What’s the situation?’ and I explained exactly. … He was, he had not been aware of that, he literally, literally had not been aware of what had transpired,” Kerry said in the Monday interview.
“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,” he continued.
Kerry is in Paris with Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week to smooth the ruffled feathers of French officials because of the submarine deal, after French officials called it a “stab in the back.”
France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia in protest and canceled a gala at its embassy in DC marking the 240th anniversary of the Revolutionary War Battle of the Capes.
The blunder last month followed the Biden administration’s failure to inform many allies ahead of time that it had planned to pull the military out of Afghanistan by the end of August — an exit that culminated in a chaotic operation to evacuate US citizens and Afghans as the Taliban took over the government.
Eventually Biden had to pick up the phone to call French President Emmanuel Macron to heal the rift.
“The two leaders agreed that the situation would have benefited from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners. President Biden conveyed his ongoing commitment in that regard,” the White House conceded in a statement about the Sept. 22 call.
Blinken met with Macron on Tuesday to assure him the relationship between the two longtime allies remains strong.
They “discussed steps forward in U.S.-French relations, areas of continued close cooperation, and looked forward to President Macron’s upcoming meeting with President Biden,” a State Department readout of the meeting said.