French Ambassador Returns to Washington After Recall to Paris

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Philippe Etienne, the French ambassador to Washington earlier recalled to Paris over Australia’s decision to scrap a submarine contract, is expected back in the United States on Wednesday.

Etienne was called back to Paris on September 17, two days after Australia abandoned a $66 billion agreement on submarines with France in favor of a partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom under the trilateral security alliance AUKUS. France considered the move a “stab in the back,” and also recalled its ambassador from Australia.

On September 22, following a phone conversation with US President Joe Biden on the matter, French President Emmanuel Macron decided to send Etienne back to Washington. The leaders also agreed to launch consultations aimed at creating conditions for confidence and to meet in Europe in late October.

On Tuesday, Macron confirmed the date of the return of the diplomat to the US as September 29, adding that Etienne was instructed “to negotiate and set the terms of new commitments” upon his arrival.

Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed the issue with his US counterpart, Antony Blinken, noting that the restoration of confidence between the two states “would take time and action.”

The issue of the return of the French ambassador to Australia in the country remains open, as Paris and Canberra had no contacts since the termination of the submarine contract.

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