US President Biden and French leader Macron met ahead of G20 summit in Rome. Biden says that he did not know that France was not informed while agreeing the submarine deal with UK and Australia, and France is an "extremely extremely valued partner."

French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden meet at the French Embassy to the Vatican in Rome on October 29, 2021.
French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden meet at the French Embassy to the Vatican in Rome on October 29, 2021. (AFP)

President Joe Biden has offered Paris a public apology for the role "clumsy" United States diplomacy played in causing a major rift in relations with France.   

"It was not done with a lot of grace," Biden said, speaking on Friday in Paris while meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Italy ahead of the G20 Leaders summit.  He further emphasized that Paris remains "an extremely extremely valued partner."

"I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not coming through," he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes US President Joe Biden before their meeting at the French Embassy to the Vatican in Rome on October 29, 2021
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes US President Joe Biden before their meeting at the French Embassy to the Vatican in Rome on October 29, 2021 (AFP)

The meeting comes after the US and UK agreed in September to provide Australia with technology to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, which saw a $90 billion French contract to sell Australia conventionally-powered submarines fall through. The deal led Paris to pull its ambassador from Washington.

The envoy ultimately returned after the US and France agreed to a joint statement in which they announced the nuclear submarine deal "would have benefitted" from greater openness.

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Addressing reporters alongside Biden, Macron said he and the US president "clarified together what we had to clarify."

"Now what’s important is to be sure that such a situation will not be possible for our future," he said. "This is an extremely important clarification."

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The decision to provide Australia with critical nuclear know-how came in conjunction with a trilateral announcement from Washington, Canberra and London of a new Indo-Pacific-focused security pact known as AUKUS. All three nations have since stressed the importance of France, which is the only EU state to have territorial claims in the region.

Source: AA