US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will promise better communication with France on a trip to Paris next week, and French officials still resent the cancellation of a huge submarine contract.
Blinken will travel to Paris Monday through Wednesday for a meeting of the OECD’s club of advanced market economies and will also meet with French officials, the State Department announced.
Then Blinken will fly from Paris to Mexico City for his first trip to the American neighbor as secretary of state, which has already been announced by the Mexican government.
France was enraged last month when Australia canceled a multibillion-dollar deal for French submarines, saying it would seek American nuclear versions as tensions with China escalate.
“We agree that the September 15 announcement would have benefited from better and more open consultation among the allies,” said Karen Donfried, undersecretary of state for European affairs.
“Our meetings in Paris are part of our commitment to an in-depth consultation process in the future. We recognize that this will take time and hard work and will have to be demonstrated not only with words but also with deeds, ”he told reporters.
France accused the United States of treason and Australia of backstabbing and withdrew the ambassadors of both countries.
Tensions began to subside when President Joe Biden spoke by phone with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron. French ambassador Philippe Etienne returned to Washington on Wednesday and quickly received separate meetings with Blinken and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser.
France is still furious at Australia, with a planned round of Australia-EU free trade negotiations postponed.
I appreciated the opportunity to meet with the French Ambassador @Ph_Etienne. We had a productive discussion on next steps in the France-US relationship and discussed enhanced cooperation globally. We hope to visit our French allies in Paris next week.
– Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) October 1, 2021
Bringing France into the Asia strategy
Australia announced the submarine’s decision by joining a new alliance with Britain and the United States, dubbed AUKUS, one of a series of initiatives by Biden as it sees a rising China as America’s top concern in the 21st century. .
Amid accusations by Paris experts that France was collateral damage to Biden’s laser focus on China, US officials said Blinken would talk to France, which has Pacific territories, about Asia strategy.
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“AUKUS is not intended to replace existing agreements or existing partnerships,” Donfried said.
“On the contrary, we welcome the opportunity to discuss how to include the EU and other partners in our initiatives around the Indo-Pacific in the future,” he said.
Some Europeans were also concerned about Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to take over. Biden said America’s longest war was a costly distraction from competition with China.
Blinken had already planned a visit to mark the 60th anniversary of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
He will co-chair an OECD ministerial meeting that will seek to promote a green economy, one month before the UN climate negotiations in Glasgow.
China, which has observer status in the OECD, is frequently criticized by the United States for its state-driven business practices, as well as its aggressive lending to developing nations.
Blinken will speak at the OECD on “shared values,” including transparency, said Matt Murray, a senior State Department official who deals with economic affairs.
“The administration is very interested in engaging like-minded partners and allies to talk about the behavior of non-market economies, including China,” Murray said.