Americas

French ambassador returns to US as tensions ease over Aukus submarine deal

WASHINGTON (AFP) – France’s ambassador returned to the United States on Wednesday  (Sept 29) after nearly two weeks as the allies patch up relations following fury in Paris over the cancellation of a lucrative contract.

Ambassador Philippe Etienne was ordered back to Paris on Sept 17 for consultations after Australia backed out of a multibillion-dollar contract for French submarines as part of a new alliance with Washington and London.

Mr Etienne arrived on Wednesday afternoon at Dulles International Airport outside the US capital, a French embassy spokesman said.

His return was agreed upon during a telephone call last week between French President Emmanuel Macron and his US counterpart Joe Biden, who acknowledged that Washington could have communicated better with its long-time ally.

In strikingly strong language, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had accused the US of betrayal and Australia of backstabbing.

Canberra said it scrapped the contract as it decided it needs nuclear submarines, which can stay underwater for far greater stretches, at a time of rising tensions with China.

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