US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will promise better communication with France next week on a visit to Paris, where officials are still thinking of scrapping a major submarine contract.
The State Department announced that Blinken will travel to Paris from Monday to Wednesday for a meeting of the OECD Club of Advanced Market Economies and will also meet with French officials.
Blinken will fly from Paris to Mexico City for his first visit to the US neighbor as Secretary of State, which has already been announced by the Mexican government.
France was furious last month when Australia canceled a multi-billion dollar deal for French submarines, saying it would pursue US nuclear versions as tensions with China mount.
“We agree that the 15 September announcement will benefit from better and more open consultations between allies,” said Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.
“Our meetings in Paris are part of our commitment to the process of intensive consultations going forward. We recognize that this will take time and hard work and will need to be demonstrated not only in words but also in actions,” she said. said. told reporters.
France accused the United States of betrayal and Australia of back-stabbing, and withdrew ambassadors from both countries.
Tensions began to ease when President Joe Biden spoke on the telephone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. French Ambassador Philippe Etienne returned to Washington on Wednesday and immediately held separate meetings with Blinken and Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
France is still furious with Australia over the postponement of a long-planned round of Australia-EU free trade talks.
– Bringing France into Asia’s strategy –
Australia announced the submarine’s decision as it joined a new alliance with Britain and the United States dubbed AUKUS, one of a series of initiatives by Biden as he embarks on a joint venture into the 21st century. The state sees a growing China as the top concern of the US.
Amid accusations from Paris pundits that France was collateral damage in Biden’s laser focus on China, US officials assured Blinken would talk to France, which has the Pacific, about Asia strategy.
“Ocus does not intend to replace existing arrangements or existing partnerships,” Donfried said.
“On the contrary, we welcome the opportunity to discuss how to engage the European Union and other partners in our initiatives around the Indo-Pacific,” she said.
Some Europeans were also concerned by Biden’s decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan, allowing the Taliban to take power. Biden said America’s longest war was a costly distraction from competition with China.
Blinken was already planning to attend the 60th anniversary of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
He will co-chair an OECD ministerial focus on promoting a green economy a month before the high-stakes UN climate talks in Glasgow.
China, which has observer status in the OECD, has often faced criticism from the US for its state-run trade practices as well as aggressive lending to developing countries.
Matt Murray, a senior State Department official handling economic affairs, said Blinken would speak on “shared values” at the OECD, including transparency.
“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.
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