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France’s Le Drian says row with Washington over submarines still not resolved

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A dispute between Paris and Washington over Australia’s decision to ditch a submarine procurement contract remains serious and unresolved, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday, despite what he said were substantive talks in Paris with the top US diplomat.

The transatlantic row was triggered by the United States’ negotiation in secret of a military pact, known as AUKUS, with Australia and Britain to counter China.

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Under the pact, Australia committed to buy US-designed submarines, and pulled out of an existing supply deal with France. Paris said the deal had been done behind its back, and in protest briefly withdrew its ambassador from Washington.

Speaking to French lawmakers, Le Drian said he had held frank and substantive talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on a visit to Paris this week.

“The crisis is serious, it is not resolved just because we have resumed dialogue and it will last. To get out of it we will need acts rather than words,” Le Drian said, adding that the two sides were working to get results by the end of October.

French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden will talk again in mid-October, he said.

Read more: West imploding over submarines deal: What is going on with US, UK, Australia, France?