President Joe Biden said the US has ‘no closer and more reliable ally than Australia’ while meeting with its Prime Minister Scott Morrison as tensions with France begin to boil over.

Both Biden and Morrison in their bilateral meeting on Tuesday afternoon said their partnership was in the best interest of the world.

‘Our partnership is in line with all the other democracies in the world. And we got a lot of work to do,’ Biden said.

Neither Biden nor Morrison addressed a secret arms deal that has angered France.

Last week, Australia bailed on a $90billion submarine contract with France, instead choosing to work with the US and UK. Infuriated, France withdrew its ambassadors to the US and Australia.

‘The issues we discussed and our partnership today really do reach out to so many others in terms of how we address the global challenges,’ Morrison said while meeting with Biden at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

Neither Biden nor Morrison answered questions from reporters about France’s outrage over the matter. While Biden has yet to address the situation, he is attempting to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

‘We’re still working on the scheduling of it — with President Macron in the coming days,’ Psaki said on Monday.

‘And what I expect the President will do on that call is reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners on a range of challenges that the global community is facing.’

Biden said Tuesday that the situation in the Indo-Pacific would be part of his conversation with Morrison. The President will also host the first in-person summit of leaders of the ‘Quad’ countries at the White House on Friday with Morrison, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide.

‘But it’s not just about our partnership because our partnership reaches out to so many others, whether it be our friends in in the (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ASEAN nations, or in Europe or elsewhere, where we share so many like minded interests,’ the president noted. 

China is also furious about the deal.

Beijing claims it has ‘intensified’ the arms race and state media has warned that it ‘will potentially make Australia a target of a nuclear strike if war breaks out’, according to the Daily Mail.

As part of the deal, Britain and the US have agreed to provide Australia nuclear submarine technology, mainly in an effort to counter Chinese expansion in the South China Sea where it lays claim to several disputed islands.

While tensions rise, Macron is not at the United Nations meeting. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has also skipped out on the usual one-on-one meeting scheduled with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The French said on Monday they would be expecting compensation for the shredded submarine deal, estimated to be as much as $290million. 

In response to the French saying they did not receive enough prior warning to Australia backing out on the deal, Morrison claims he had raised ‘issues’ concerning the contract ‘many months ago’.

These issues have come to the surface as world leaders convene in New York for a United Nations conference, which is focusing on the fight against the coronavirus and climate change.

Biden met with face-to-face with Morrison just days after he forgot the prime minister’s name while announcing the trilateral security partnership with Australia and Britain. Biden referred to Morrison as ‘that fella down under’.

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