Biden not 'aware of what had transpired' in AUKUS submarine deal: Kerry

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U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry told a French news channel that President Biden was not “aware” the latest tri-lateral agreement between the U.S., U.K, and Australia would anger France.

“He literally had not been aware of what had transpired,” Kerry said in a Monday interview with BFMTV. “And I don’t want to go into the details of it, but suffice it to say, that the president, my president is very committed to strengthening the relationship and making sure that this is a small event of the past and moving on to the much more important future.”

The interview with the French outlet came just weeks after a U.S.-U.K deal with Australia, dubbed AUKUS, voided a $40 billion 2016 submarine contract between France and the Aussie government. 

The deal with France would have provided Australia with conventional submarines, while the new agreement will grant the Indo-Pacific nation with highly sensitive nuclear submarine technology.

But the AUKUS deal has tarnished U.S. ties with the EU nation, and France’s minister of foreign affairs called the move a “stab in the back.” 

A top EU official appointed by French President Emanuel Macron further suggested last month it was time to “pause and reset our EU-U.S. relationship.”

While Kerry told the French outlet he understood France’s anger, he also suggested U.S. ties with France were more important than a geopolitical squabble. 

“We have a relationship with France that is so much bigger than this moment of what happened with respect to a lack of communication,” he said. Adding that there is an “understanding that we have so much to work on.”

“Our commitment…to our ability to work together is much, much stronger to any of these differences over the last few days,” he continued. “President Biden looks forward to meeting with President Macron and I’m absolutely confident that the bigger issues we have to work on, about nuclear weapons, about cyber warfare, about climate…we have a lot of work to do and we can’t get lost in a momentary event that I think we will get past very quickly.”

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