France's US ambassador set to return to DC after 5-day submarine deal protest

France's US ambassador set to return to DC after 5-day submarine deal protest
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  • Emmanuel Macron
    Emmanuel Macron
    President of France
U.S. President Joe Biden (L) and France's President Emmanuel Macron walk along the boardwalk as they arrive at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, on June 11, 2021.
US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron. PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
  • France will send its ambassador back to the US after pulling him over a submarine rift.

  • French officials fumed over the US striking a nuclear submarine deal with the UK and Australia.

  • President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron patched things up over the phone Wednesday.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

French President Emmanuel Macron agreed on Wednesday to return the French ambassador to Washington after pulling him in protest of a nuclear submarine deal.

France recalled both of its ambassadors from the US and Australia last week over what they described as a lack of communication around the deal, which scuttled one France had already struck with the Aussies to sell them diesel submarines.

The minimal heads-up from the three nations to their French ally came up during a phone call between Biden and Macron on Wednesday.

Philippe Etienne, the French ambassador to the US, said he found out about the allies pulling out of the deal through the press despite Australian officials saying they provided notice. American officials acknowledged they only gave Australia a few hours' notice before announcing the deal, according to The New York Times.

"The two leaders agreed that the situation would have benefitted from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners," the Biden and Macron administrations said in a joint statement.

"They will meet in Europe at the end of October in order to reach shared understandings and maintain momentum in this process," they continued. "President Emmanuel Macron has decided that the French Ambassador will return to Washington next week."

The new security partnership between the US, UK, and Australia aimed at better confronting challenges in the Indo-Pacific riled France by upending a lucrative defense deal thought to be worth as much as $66 billion to French shipbuilders.

Australia selected a French builder in 2016 to deliver a fleet of 12 diesel-powered submarines. There were setbacks in negotiations, but a production contract was signed in 2019. The deal was reconfirmed just weeks ago before being scrapped in favor of the AUKUS version.

The nuclear-powered submarines are significantly more capable than conventional vessels, particularly because they tend to be quieter, have greater range, and are not required to surface as frequently. The US deal to share submarine technology with Australia led the latter to back out of previously negotiated deal with France.

Ryan Pickrell contributed to this report.

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