by Matthew Lee
PARIS (AP) — France and the United States moved closer on Tuesday after the Biden administration ousted Washington’s oldest ally from a new Indo-Pacific security initiative, igniting French anger.
French President Emmanuel Macron and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Paris to explore ways to bridge the rift that led France to take the unprecedented step of recalling its ambassador to the US.
According to a senior US State Department official, Macron and Blinken explored possible US-French cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and other areas in a one-on-one session of about 40 minutes.
The meeting was the highest level of personal contact between the two countries, as disputes erupted last month with the announcement of a three-way agreement between Australia, Britain and the US on 15 September, known as AUKUS, which had apparently left France. and other European nations.
The State Department official said the two discussed possible joint projects that could be announced by Macron and President Joe Biden when they meet later this month in Europe at a date and specific location that has yet to be decided. Have to go Macron and Biden agreed in a September 22 phone call to attempt to repair the damage.
The official did not elaborate on what those projects might be, but did say they could potentially support Indo-Pacific and Western efforts to advance China’s progress there and elsewhere, other trans-Atlantic objectives linked to NATO and the European Union, and is likely to engage in counter-terrorism cooperation. Sahel region of Africa.
The official said Macron and Blinken had agreed to use the dispute as an opportunity to “deepen and strengthen coordination” and described the talks as “very productive”, while “very productive”. The hard work continues.”
The official spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity and discussed closed-door conversations between Macron and Blinken at the Elysee Palace, which did not appear at Blinken’s official event for the day.
The meeting largely took place amid repeated French demands for the US to restore trust broken with the announcement of the AUKUS deal.
A French official, speaking under customary anonymity, said the “long, one-on-one meeting” took place shortly after Blinken saw Macron’s national security adviser Emmanuel Bonne. Bonne looked to Blinken to “study ways to rekindle ties and help restore trust between France and the United States after the recall of the French ambassador,” the official said.
US officials have acknowledged that the AUKUS announcement was handled poorly and could have benefited from coordination with France and other EU members, all of whom were left out. He has also indicated a willingness to make amends, although he has suggested that France’s anger is an exaggeration.
France reacted with fury to the announcement of AUKUS, which also scuttled a multi-billion dollar submarine contract with Australia, and briefly recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra in an unprecedented display of pique.
French officials called it a “stab in the back” by allies and expressed disappointment that it happened after Biden announced “America is back” and the importance of restoring and emphasizing trans-Atlantic ties during the Trump administration. I promised.
France has repeatedly said that bridging the rift will take a lot of time and work, and that the event requires Europe to develop its own security and defense plans as well as adopt a European strategy to counter growing challenges from China. underlines.
Blinken is in the French capital for a two-day International Economic Conference, which has been overshadowed by the AUKUS controversy that erupted with the project’s announcement. Blinken’s first meeting in Paris was with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, whom he considers his personal friend.
Before her visit, her second in France as secretary of state, but her first since breaking up, Blinken met with French ambassador Philippe tienne on Friday, returning to Washington after being called back to Paris by Macron.
Blinken, a fluent French speaker who grew up and went to high school in Paris, expressed disappointment that France had reacted so harshly to the auks. He and others have suggested that French anger is in part related to domestic French politics and the shifting dynamics within the European Union, which would soon see Angela Merkel depart as Germany’s leader after 16 years in power.
The apparent reason for Blinken’s visit to France, which was planned well before the AUKUS uproar, is to co-chair a ministerial meeting of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday and Wednesday about climate change and security.
Former Secretary of State and current US climate envoy John Kerry is also participating in the OECD talks, which are taking place weeks ahead of the next UN-backed climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
Sylvie Corbett contributed to this report.