Biden admits to ‘clumsy’ handling of nuclear submarine deal in meeting with Macron

President Joe Biden is in Rome, after a day of high-profile meetings with Pope Francis and France's President Emmanuel Macron. Nick Schifrin has more on how Biden spent the day.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Well, tonight, President Biden is in Rome, after a day of high-profile meetings with a pope and a president.

    Nick Schifrin has our report.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Today, in the Eternal City, the U.S. sought to make sure its oldest alliance would endure. President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron tried to mend a relationship that's been strained since the U.S. excluded France from a deal to provide Australia nuclear submarines.

    Today, President Biden delivered a mea culpa.

  • President Joe Biden:

    What happened was, to use an English phrase, what we did was clumsy. It was not done with a lot of grace. France is an extremely, extremely valued partner.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    President Macron seemed ready to move on.

  • Emmanuel Macron, French President:

    For me, what's important is that we built during the past weeks some very concrete actions in order to strengthen the partnership.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Those actions include additional U.S. drones and other military support for French troops fighting militants in Western Africa and endorsing increased European military capacity and industry.

  • President Joe Biden:

    You are the most significant warrior for peace I have ever met.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Earlier in the day, two of the world's most prominent Catholics discussed climate change, poverty, and COVID. President Biden and Pope Francis exchanged gifts, including a coin that President Biden said his late son, Beau, would have wanted the pope to have.

    In public, the two emphasize their agreements and avoid discussing the ongoing debate inside the church over abortion. President Biden supports abortion rights. The U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops says that should exclude the president from receiving communion.

    After meeting Italy's prime minister, President Biden claimed the pope provided his blessing.

  • Question:

    Mr. President, did the issue of abortion come up at all?

  • President Joe Biden:

    No, it didn't. It came up. We just talked about the fact that he was happy I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving communion.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Tomorrow, President Biden begins the first of two major international summits, including on climate change.

    Away from all the pleasantries, palm-pressing, and photo-ops, back home, the president's climate agenda and much of his international clout along with it hangs in the balance.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.

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