President Joe Biden on Friday admitted that his administration had been “clumsy” during negotiations on a submarine contract with Australia that caused a rift between him and French President Emmanuel Macron, CBS News reports.
“What we did was clumsy. It was not done with a lot of grace,” Biden said while with Macron during a sit-down in the French Embassy to the Vatican ahead of the G20 summit, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not coming through. Honest to God.”
He went on to say, “I was under the impression that certain things happened that didn’t. But I want to make it clear that France is an extremely, extremely valued partner. Extremely.”
Biden added, “There’s too much we have done together, suffered together, celebrated together and valued together for anything to really break this up,” saying that the world is currently at “an inflection point,” and eventually took Macron by the hand and said, “I want to be in the same war.”
Macron reciprocated the gesture and said that they would “clarify together what we have to clarify.”
The dispute concerned a deal that the U.S., UK and Australia announced last month that includes highly-coveted nuclear-propulsion technology for use on submarines, and resulted in France losing out on a contact worth $65 billion to provide Australia with submarines.
French officials said that they hadn’t been informed of the deal, which the French foreign minister described as “a stab in the back,” before stories leaked to the Australian press just before it was officially announced. France eventually went on to withdraw their ambassador from Washington, D.C., and the issue became a focal point for Macron’s political opponents, who have heavily criticized him for not knowing about the deal just months before the country’s presidential election.