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President Joe Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron Wednesday for the first time since France erupted with anger over a new Indo-Pacific defense alliance between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Nick Schifrin looks at European-U.S. relations with Josep Borrell, the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission.
President Biden's call to the president of France today attempted to ease tension over a deal with Australia and the U.K..
Nick Schifrin is back with the European Union's top diplomat.
Judy, President Biden says he is launching a new era of American diplomacy, in coordination with the U.S.' closest allies.
But there are real disagreements between the U.S. and Europe as they confront major challenges, including Afghanistan and stalled nuclear talks with Iran.
To discuss that, I'm joined by Josep Borrell, the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission.
High Representative, welcome to the "NewsHour." Thank you very much.
In their joint statement today, Presidents Biden and Macron say — quote — "The situation would have benefited from open consultations among allies."
The two will meet at the end of October. President Biden acknowledged the importance of France in the Indo-Pacific and the importance of stronger European defense. This week, he expressed solidarity with France.
Does this call and statement repair the damage?
Josep Borrell, European Union Minister for Foreign Affairs: Yes, I think that the statement has paved the way in order to overcome these difficulties.
I had a meeting with the Secretary of State Blinken, and I have to say this statement was more or less what I had to say to him. So it was quite easy after the statement to reach agreements.
I want to reach out beyond the sub deal. And President Biden says he's prioritizing allies, but European diplomats have told me that the Biden administration didn't listen to them on Afghanistan, on COVID vaccines, on a travel ban, on Trump era tariffs that are still there.
France's foreign minister said Biden's method is similar to Trump's, but without the tweets. Do you agree?
Well, this is a sharp sentence.
It represented needs of the French. And I can agree on that, from the point of view of what does it represent? A lack of communication. But we have to try to overcome this situation, because we cannot afford to be divided, because this is going to be used by people who are not exactly our friends, and also the recognition that the Europeans have to have a stronger military capacity in order to share a more important part of the burden that represents the defense of the Western world.
On that question of stronger European military capacity, you have talked about an independent force of 5,000 European troops.
Do you foresee a day when you would actually deploy those troops over U.S. objections?
You know, the U.S. rightly have decided to withdraw. President Biden said in the United Nations yesterday that it is for the first time in 20 years that the U.S. is not at war anywhere in the world.
And we, Europeans, we have, as I said, to share a part of our responsibility. And for doing that, we have to have the capacity of deploying troops, like you, Americans, are able to do. Thanks to you and thanks to your troops and to your military, it was possible to secure the airport at Kabul.
So it will be problems in our neighborhood in which you will not intervene, and we should be able of doing that by our own.
Do you acknowledge that U.S. and NATO officials would be concerned by that statement that you just made?
They should not.
I don't understand why a stronger Europe can represent a concern for NATO. The stronger Europe will be, the stronger the NATO will be, because we are part of NATO. Nothing about changing one thing by the other. As the two presidents said today, the military capacity of the Europeans is a complement to NATO, a complement, not an alternative.
We have to be able to have by our own in the situations, in the cases, in the places where we cannot expect the U.S. intervene or the NATO intervene. We have to share our part of responsibility, and we have to be able to act alone, if needed.
On Iran, sir, it's been about four months since Europe and Iran have met with any substantive dialogue.
It's been about two months since Ebrahim Raisi was elected president of Iran. Do you acknowledge that it is Iran that is unwilling to engage in serious dialogue today?
Well, two months, but to be honest, you have to recognize that only 25 days since the new minister of foreign affairs is in office.
I had the opportunity to meet with him yesterday in person, a long discussion. He assure me that they will go back to the negotiation tables in Vienna, in Austria. As coordinator of the nuclear deal with Iran, I will do my best in order to make this — to renew the deal, and the U.S. to go back to the deal and the Iranians to fulfill fully their nuclear obligations.
The Iranians have said they'd resume these negotiations in the past, and they clearly haven't made that step yet.
Do you believe there needs to be more leverage or pressure on Iran in order to make sure they resume these negotiations?
It's not a matter of pressure.
I think it's a matter of convincing them that they need an agreement. And Iran economy and society is in very bad shape. They have been paying a high price for the closing of their capacity to support oil. And they need an agreement in order to restart the economy working.
And the only way you're having this agreement is going back to the negotiation table.
High Representative Josep Borrell, thank you very much.
Thank you to you. Thank you.
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Nick Schifrin is the foreign affairs and defense correspondent for PBS NewsHour, based in Washington, D.C. He leads NewsHour's foreign reporting and has created week-long, in-depth series for NewsHour from China, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Cuba, Mexico, and the Baltics. The PBS NewsHour series "Inside Putin's Russia" won a 2018 Peabody Award and the National Press Club's Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence. In November 2020, Schifrin received the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Arthur Ross Media Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs.
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