Macron and Johnson speak, frozen – POLITICO
NEW YORK – The problems haven’t gone away, but French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are now at least on good terms again.
The two leaders spoke by phone on Friday for the first time since the diplomatic crisis that erupted over the new Indo-Pacific security partnership announced by the United States, United Kingdom and Australia last week. As a sign of progress, the tone of the exchange was notably more constructive, although far from cordial.
“Boris Johnson has expressed his intention to restore cooperation between France and the United Kingdom, in accordance with our values and our common interests,” said the press release issued by the French presidency. These issues include the climate, the Indo-Pacific and the fight against terrorism.
In a sign of persistence coldness between the two countries, Macron “replied that he was awaiting his proposals”, according to the French statement, clearly indicating that France considers that the ball is in Johnson’s court to back up his intentions with actions.
Earlier this week, Johnson shed light on France’s fury over how the US, UK and Australia had negotiated the trilateral security partnership, known as AUKUS, in his back for months, costing Paris a multibillion-euro submarine contract.
“It’s time to [France] To take a grasp about it, and give me one break ”, Johnson noted in Washington on Wednesday.
Downing Street’s statement about the call with Macron struck a much more cooperative and respectful tone.
“They reaffirmed the importance of the UK-France relationship … The leaders noted in particular the strategic importance of our long-standing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and in Africa, ”the British statement read.
The two sides also “agreed to step up cooperation” to “break the smugglers’ business model.” Migrant crossings in small boats from France to the UK have been a major issue in UK domestic politics and have led to tensions with France, which has been accused of not doing enough to hinder crossings.
Other disputes remain between the two countries in the aftermath of Brexit, including fishing licenses and the Northern Ireland protocol, thorny issues which the leaders “have agreed to continue to talk about”, according to the British statement. There was no mention of these issues in the French statement.
The two leaders will then meet at the G20 in Rome in October, while Johnson will host Macron and other world leaders in Glasgow in November for the COP26 climate summit.