By Guy C. Charlton and Xiang Gao – December 23, 2022
Increased French-U.S. cooperation in the region should be welcome news to Pacific Island states.
The December 1 meeting and joint statement between French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden highlighted the new urgency in Franco-U.S. efforts to emphasize their status as Pacific powers. It seemingly puts to rest the year-long fallout from the Australian submarine contractual dispute, when Australia scuttled a French contract for conventional submarines in favor of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS defense pact with the United States and the United Kingdom. The handling of the incident, which Biden characterized as “clumsy” on the part of the United States, damaged France-U.S. relations and led France to briefly recall its ambassador from Washington.
The meeting underscores a significant convergence in Franco-U.S. interests in the Pacific. In the joint statement, the countries pledged to “expand their regional diplomatic, development, and economic engagement with a view to building resilience in the Pacific Islands,” while increasing maritime security coordination. The United States also pledged to increase its material contributions to French air and maritime deployments.
READ FULL ARTICLE : Why France-US Relations Matter for the Pacific – The Diplomat