Saturday, October 23, 2021

Blinken heads to France to revive transatlantic alliance

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on his way to Paris, his first visit to France, following an enhanced trilateral security partnership known as AUKUS (Australia, UK and US), which has raised tensions between transatlantic allies. extended to.

Experts said they expect Blinken, who has strong personal ties with France, to use the upcoming visit to improve US-France ties.

Top US diplomats will chair a meeting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Ministerial Council, which is scheduled to take place on October 5-6, and will mark the organization’s 60th anniversary.

Blinken will have a bilateral meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris. France is set to preside over the Council of the European Union from January 1 to June 30, 2022.

“Secretary Blinken will also meet with French counterparts to continue discussions on further strengthening important US-French relations on a range of issues, including security in the Indo-Pacific region, the climate crisis, economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, transatlantic ties, and the Middle East. relationship, and working with our partners and partners to address global challenges and opportunities,” the State Department said in a statement Friday.

Tension over AUKUS deal

US President Joe Biden’s administration announced a new security deal with Australia and Britain on 15 September. The deal came after Australia pulled out of an old deal with France for diesel-electric submarines, angering Paris.

Within two days of the announcement, France withdrew its ambassadors to the US and Australia. Le Drian declared that there was a “crisis of confidence” in the United States.

Following a phone call on 22 September between President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, which sought to de-escalate tensions over the submarine deal, the two leaders decided to open a process of in-depth consultations “to ensure trust”. Macron also decided that French Ambassador Philippe Etienne would return to Washington next week.

On Thursday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Etienne at the White House to “continue to advance the shared agenda”, ahead of Biden’s meeting with Macron in Europe in late October. Both are scheduled to attend the Group of 20 summit in Rome at that time.

“We need to make sure there is confidence,” said Karen Donfried, the newly confirmed assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, in a phone briefing on Friday.

While US-French relations remain an important one for both sides, James Goldgier, a senior visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the Biden administration “seems to have been a little distracted by the angry French response.” For the AUKUS deal.

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“It is good that both presidents are looking for ways to move forward. There is no doubt that the Biden administration considers the Indo-Pacific as its main focus. US policy toward regions such as Europe is viewed through that lens ,” Goldgear told VOA.

The US delegation to the OECD ministerial in October also includes John Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, and US Trade Representative Catherine Tai, the State Department said in a statement.

OECD and China

The OECD gathering will discuss the climate crisis, promote the transition to net-zero emissions, as well as continue its commitment to shared values ​​such as democracy, rule of law and human rights on the principles of market-economy.

A senior State Department official said another focus during the upcoming OECD meeting is on the Blue Dot network, a mechanism to certify infrastructure projects that meet strong international quality standards.

The United States, Japan and Australia launched the Blue Dot network in 2019. Named for simply observing Earth from space as a “blue dot,” it encourages growth by certifying public-private investments in global infrastructure that are market-driven, transparent. , and environmentally sustainable.

Matt Murray, a senior official with the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, said during a phone call, “the administration is very involved in engaging like-minded partners and allies to talk about the behavior of non-market economies, including China. is interested.” Briefing on Friday.

Murray told the VOA that China would participate in the upcoming OECD meeting as an observer.

“Aside from the Ministerial Council meeting, and more generally, the US government has conducted a comprehensive review of US-China trade relations as the United States welcomes healthy, fair competition with our trading partners. and economic with the PRC. Competition should be fair,” Murray said.

Blinken Head for Mexico

Blinken’s week-long visit includes a stop at Stanford University, as well as meetings in Mexico City from October 7-8 for US-Mexico high-level security talks.

Mexico’s Secretary of State Marcelo Ebrard said this week that top US diplomats would join US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayercas and US Attorney General Merrick Garland to discuss security issues.

The high-level meeting comes amid the recent migration crisis as thousands of Haitian migrants gathered at the US-Mexico border last month.

The Biden administration confirmed on September 24 that a makeshift camp where 15,000 Haitian migrants faced depressing conditions at the US-Mexico border is now empty.

In late September, Mexico also began sending Haitian migrants back to their homeland.


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