France put the pressure on the transatlantic relationship on Thursday, the day after the “explanation” between Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden, insisting that the crisis with the United States was not over and that Washington still had to give pledges of confidence.
The way out of the crisis will take “time” and demand “acts”, launched the head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian to his American counterpart Antony Blinken during a tête-à-tête on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The meeting, which took place at the premises of the French diplomatic mission to the UN on the 44th floor of a New York building, lasted about an hour.
It was held in the greatest discretion, away from microphones and cameras, Paris having refused until the last minute to confirm it.
Since the beginning of the week, the French minister, after having had very harsh words towards the United States, refused any bilateral meeting with his counterpart in the corridors of the UN.
France has been ulcerated since the surprise announcement on September 15 of a strategic partnership between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, with the collateral effect of the outright cancellation of a mega-contract for submarines French in Canberra.
The transatlantic crisis, the most serious since 2003
It denounces methods of another age between allies, within NATO as well as in the Indo-Pacific, and demands more respect for European interests.
Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron outlined a detente Wednesday, in the most serious diplomatic crisis between these two historic allies since the French “no” to the Iraq war in 2003.
The American president seemed to be doing his mea-culpa by agreeing that “open consultations” would “have made it possible to avoid this situation”.
He conceded that France and the EU had a role to play in the Indo-Pacific – in the face of Chinese ambitions, the United States’ number one priority – and that European defense had its place in transatlantic security ”, alongside of NATO.
The US president in the process expressed the hope of a “return to normal” in the relationship with Paris.
But President Macron, himself shaken by the return of the anti-Atlanticist debate in France, seven months before the presidential election, obviously has another approach to the time of the crisis.
The Drian avoids his Australian and British counterparts
The appeal of the two heads of state was only a “first step”, pointed out Jean-Yves Le Drian. What happened remains “serious” and requires concrete answers, one explains in Paris, refuting any “reaction of mood”.
The two presidents have launched “extensive consultations” between the two countries to renew the threads of “confidence”. They are due to meet at the end of October in Europe, where the American president is expected at the G20 summit in Rome on the 30th and 31st.
Until then for their heads of diplomacy, who have agreed to maintain “close contact” according to Paris, to clear the ground.
The two ministers discussed the Indo-Pacific strategy and “the need for close cooperation with France and other European allies in the region,” summed up the State Department in a very factual statement.
Nothing filtered through the atmosphere of the tête-à-tête. Until then, relations were very cordial and warm between Jean-Yves Le Drian and his counterpart, a Francophile and Francophone who lived as a teenager in Paris.
If he finally met Antony Blinken, Jean-Yves Le Drian on the other hand carefully avoided the foreign ministers of the two other protagonists of the crisis, the United Kingdom, which in vain called for a meeting with his new minister, and Australia.
And if the French ambassador in Washington, recalled in protest, is due to return to the federal capital next week, Canberra still has no date for the return of the French representative. The transatlantic crisis has yet to reveal all of its secrets.