US President Joe Biden spoke about US-France tensions over a US deal with Australia for nuclear-powered submarines, which derailed France's own multibillion-dollar deal, and he said what the US did "was clumsy."
"What we did was clumsy. It was not done with a lot of grace. I was under the impression that certain things had happened that had not happened," he told reporters on Friday. "France is an extremely, extremely valuable partner. Extremely important."
Biden also said he thought "France had been informed long before" about the deal.
"Honest to God. I did not know that," he said.
It was a striking admission of a foreign policy misstep for a President with decades of experience in that arena. Biden has not publicly admitted wrongdoing in the submarine deal, but did convey regret in an earlier phone call with Macron at how the situation was handled.
French President Emmanuel Macron also responded with a forward-looking answer:
“The US was not the only body at stake. … Now what's important is precisely to be sure that such a situation will not be possible for our future,” Macron said. “Stronger coordination, stronger cooperation.”
“For me, what’s important is that we build during these past weeks some very concrete actions in order to strengthen the partnership, with the help and clarification between what the European defense means and the how that’s completely compatible with NATO,” he added.
Watch the moment: