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Macron wants Europeans to boost defense, be 'respected'

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the signing of a new defense deal at The Elysee Palace on Sept. 28, 2021, in Paris. (Ludovic Marin, Pool Photo via AP)

PARIS (AP) -- French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that Europeans must boost their defense plans and make themselves "respected," as France opens talks with the United States to try to restore confidence after a submarine dispute led to a major diplomatic crisis.

    "Europeans must come out of their naivety," Macron said Tuesday in a news conference in Paris, the first time he had spoken about the new Indo-Pacific defense deal announced this month by the U.S., Australia and Britain.

    "When we are under pressure, ... showing that we also have power and the capacity to defend ourselves ... is simply making ourselves be respected."

    As part of the pact, Australia will cancel a multibillion-dollar contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and acquire U.S. nuclear-powered vessels instead. In an unprecedented move, France recalled its ambassador to the U.S. in response.

    Ambassador Philippe Etienne will go back to Washington on Wednesday with a "clear mandate," Macron said. He stressed he and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed last week in a phone call to open in-depth consultations aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence between the longtime allies.

    Macron said he is to talk again with Biden in mid-October, before a scheduled in-person meeting at the end of next month in Europe.

    The U.S. are "great historical friends and allies in terms of values, but we must see that for more than 10 years the Americans first focus on themselves and have strategic interests reoriented toward China and the Pacific," Macron said.

    "We must, as Europeans, take our part in our own protection," he added. "It is not an alternative to the alliance with the U.S. nor a substitute for it," he stressed, adding that European defense plans should come in addition to NATO.

    Macron was speaking just after France signed a defense deal with Greece, including the purchase by Athens of three warships worth several billion euros.

    The European Union unveiled earlier this month a new strategy for boosting economic, political and defense ties in the Indo-Pacific area.

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