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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Paris as the Biden administration seeks to undo damage to relations caused by the exclusion of America’s oldest ally from a new Indo-Pacific security initiative

PARIS – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Paris as the Biden administration seeks to undo the damage done to relations by the exclusion of the United States’ oldest ally from a new Indo-Pacific security initiative.

Blinken is meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and President Emmanuel Macron’s national security adviser on Tuesday to try to restore confidence between the countries, especially with regard to the fight against China’s growing challenges.

France responded with fury to the announcement that also scuttled a multibillion-dollar submarine contract it had with Australia, and briefly recalled its ambassadors in Washington and Canberra in a show of spite unprecedented.

French officials called it a stab in the back of the allies and said it would take a lot of time and work to overcome it. France also said it underlined the need for Europe to develop its own security and defense plans.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meetings, Le Drian’s office reiterated that the “crisis” involves more than France and is a snub to the larger European Union of which Britain is no longer a member. The Foreign Ministry said it involved “the interests of all Europeans regarding the functioning of our alliances and the engagement of Europeans in the Indo-Pacific”.

Blinken is in the French capital for a two-day international economic conference that was overshadowed by the AUKUS controversy that erupted on September 15 with the announcement of the project.

Before his visit, his second to France, as Secretary of State but the first since the split, Blinken met with French Ambassador Philippe Etienne on his return to Washington on Friday after being recalled to Paris by Macron.

Blinken, a francophone who grew up and attended high school in Paris, expressed disappointment that France reacted so harshly to AUKUS. He and others have suggested that a certain degree of French anger is linked to French domestic politics and the changing dynamics within the EU, which will soon see Angela Merkel step down as head of Germany after 16 years at the helm. to be able to.

The apparent reason for Blinken’s trip to France, which had been planned long before the AUKUS uproar, is to co-chair a ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development based in Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday on climate change and Security.

Former Secretary of State and current US Climate Envoy John Kerry will also take part in the Paris talks, which will take place weeks before the next UN-backed international climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

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ABC News

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