Psaki 'not aware' of administration efforts to compensate France for scuttled submarine deal with Australia
President Joe Biden still has not rescheduled a call with French President Emmanuel Macron as relations between the two countries deteriorate over a new national security alliance with the United Kingdom and Australia that cost France a billion-dollar submarine contract.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the pair's aides are trying to connect the two leaders in "the coming days" amid the United Nations's 76th General Assembly meeting in New York. But she said she was "not aware" of administration attempts to compensate France after Australia reneged on its promise to buy 12 new diesel-electric submarines, opting to build nuclear-powered ones with the U.S. and U.K.
"Certainly, that is a factor for them domestically. We understand that, but I think you can expect the president's call to be more about reaffirming our commitment, the United States's commitment, to our alliance, to our partnership, and to working together on a range of issues, including security in the Indo-Pacific," Psaki told reporters Monday. "We're in active conversation about a call."
This comes after France recalled its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia last week, criticizing Biden and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for blindsiding it with the alliance. The U.S. and Australia claim they advised France on the deal.
The incident has been embarrassing for Biden, who campaigned on his foreign policy experience before the 2020 election, assuring he would be a steady hand to voters and the world after the unpredictability of former President Donald Trump.
Biden will address the United Nations on Tuesday and is expected to underscore the importance of alliances after the Trump years, according to Psaki.
"It's important to note that reestablishing alliances doesn't mean that you won't have disagreements or you won't have disagreements about how to approach any particular issue in the world," she said.
Biden will also implore the international community to start preparing for the next pandemic, counter climate change, and mitigate cybersecurity and terrorist risks together while emphasizing the need to protect democracy, Psaki said of Biden's New York remarks. But she dismissed that Biden's comments were ill-timed amid criticism over his lack of diplomacy during the withdrawal of U.S. service members from Afghanistan and the U.S-U.K.-Australia alliance announcement.
"The United States is not turning inward, including as we look to the decision the United States made, the president made, to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. Anyone who reads that in that way is not reading it accurately," she said. "You always have to work on your relationships."
Washington Examiner Videos