Oct. 6 2021 french president emmanuel macron held talks with visiting u.s. secretary of state john blinken on friday, the central news agency reported. it was macron’s first meeting with u.s. officials since australia’s submarine purchase deal sparked a u.s.-french dispute.
agence france-presse reported that the trip to mend relations with france, blinken, originally did not arrange to meet with macron. senior state department officials in paris said the two men met one-on-one for about 40 minutes and agreed that “there is an opportunity to deepen and strengthen cooperation” “even if there is still a lot of difficult work to overcome”.
the elysee palace, the french presidential palace, confirmed the meeting between mr blinken and mr macron, saying the visit would help “restore mutual trust”.
in september, australia angered macron by scrapping its $40 billion submarine procurement contract with france and turning to the united states and britain for help in building nuclear-powered submarines. the french government said australia’s cancellation of the contract was like “a knife in the back” and even recalled its ambassadors to washington and canberra at one point.
don fried, the us state department’s assistant secretary of state for european affairs, has previously admitted that “better and more frank consultation among allies would have benefited from the announcement of the tripartite alliance between australia and the us on september 15”.
mr. blinken had previously met with french foreign minister jean-yves le drian for an hour. a spokeswoman for mr le drian said it was an opportunity to “confirm how the two countries can restore mutual trust”.
state department officials said blinken then went to the elysee palace, where he was scheduled to meet with macron’s foreign policy adviser, bernard boehner, but was given “a one-on-one meeting with macron that lasted about 30 to 40 minutes.”
Officials said the atmosphere was “serious” and “I don’t want to describe their mood, but I would say that at least during the talks, the two sides were very sincere and friendly”. The talks are said to include the Indo-Pacific region, cooperation in the Sahel region of West Africa, and EU-NATO cooperation.
MR BLINKEN’S TRIP TO PARIS, WHICH HAD BEEN SCHEDULED LONG BEFORE THE AUSTRALIAN SUBMARINE CONTRACT INCIDENT, WAS ORIGINALLY INTENDED TO ATTEND A MEETING OF THE ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT, BUT HIS TWO-DAY TRIP TO FRANCE IS EXPECTED TO REVOLVE AROUND THE ISSUE OF SUBMARINE CONTRACTS.
the us has recognised that repairing relations “requires time and effort, not only verbally but also in action”.
but u.s. president joe biden and macron have spoken by phone, and france appears to be showing signs of softening. after the two spoke, the french ambassador to the united states returned to washington on september 29th to meet with mr. blinken and mr. biden’s national security adviser, mr. sullivan.
KERRY, THE U.S. CLIMATE ENVOY WHO IS ALSO IN PARIS FOR THE OECD MEETING, SAID BIDEN NOW HOPES TO MEET WITH MACRON IN PERSON.
senior state department officials said the two sides also discussed possible cooperation plans, which could be announced when macron and biden meet in europe later this month, the associated press reported. the date and venue of the meeting between the two men have not yet been set.