Blinken, Macron meet amid US-France rift
The United States and France on Tuesday moved closer to normalized relations after last month’s U.S. submarine deal with the United Kingdom and Australia created a rift between the two longtime allies.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris to discuss ways to move forward, including possible U.S.-French cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and other regions, a senior State Department official told reporters.
The roughly 40-minute one-on-one session at the presidential Élysée Palace, described by the State Department official as “very productive” and “serious,” was the highest-level in-person talks between Washington and Paris since the Sept. 15 announcement of the submarine deal.
The new agreement canceled a separate $40 billion submarine deal that France forged with Australia in 2016, prompting Paris to accuse the Biden administration of Trump-era tactics that valued dollars over relations with allies.
France also responded by nixing a planned gala in Washington, D.C., and temporarily recalling its ambassadors to the United States and Australia.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the U.S. and France agreed that more work needs to be done to mend the relationship, and the two countries are “still in the early stages of doing that,” the State Department official said, adding that the discussions centered on “using this as an opportunity” to “deepen and strengthen coordination.”
Blinken told the French president that the United States was “certainly supportive of European defense and security initiatives” that do not undermine NATO, the official said.
In addition, they discussed counterterrorism cooperation in Africa’s Sahel region.
Blinken, who was not initially expected to meet Macron, was in the country to meet with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Macron’s national security adviser Emmanuel Bonne. He is also attending meetings for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development until Wednesday.
The State Department official said Blinken and Macron’s talks will “tee up” a meeting later this month between Biden and the French president, but did not give further details.
The White House later on Tuesday announced that national security adviser Jake Sullivan will travel to Paris this week to meet with Bonne “as part of our ongoing consultations on shared bilateral and regional interests, including preparations for the meeting of President Biden and President Macron in Europe later this month.”