US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that his talks with top French officials this week were “very fruitful” and pave the way for new cooperation between Washington and Paris to stop China’s military ventures in the Indo-Pacific. could.
“It is extremely important for the US that Europe in general, France in particular, become a strong and engaged partner in the Indo-Pacific,” Blinken said at a news conference in the French capital. He concluded his visit to Europe after talks with other foreign ministers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Blinken suggested that the US and France could also work together on joint concerns and US-European security in the Sahel region of Africa.
While in Paris, Blinken met with French President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, continuing strained relations between longtime allies following a dispute over the security partnership between the United States, Britain and Australia. talks with the aim of. Macron and US President Joe Biden are expected to announce joint projects during talks on the sidelines of the Group of 20 leaders meeting in Rome later this month.
The Biden administration last month announced new security pacts with Australia and Britain that angered Paris. Under the deal, Australia will get at least eight nuclear-powered submarines domestically, using American technology. The deal came after Australia pulled out of an earlier deal with France for diesel-electric submarines.
“We could and we should have communicated better,” Blinken told France 2 television in an interview after his meeting with Macron. “We sometimes consider a relationship as important and deep as the one that connects France and the United States.”
At Wednesday’s news conference, Blinken said, “From my point of view, the conversations we’ve had over the last 24 hours were very positive, very productive and reflect a lot of important work that is in progress.”
“There’s a lot of work that goes into it,” he said. “We have met a variety of teams in the last days and that will continue to happen.”
The top US diplomat said Biden told her to “take one of the most important relationships in the world and make it better, make it even stronger.” Biden and Macron spoke on the phone last month after France’s outrage over the submarine deal.
At the opening of the OECD meeting on Tuesday, Blinken highlighted the many challenges facing member states, including the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, inequality and setting rules for a technologically advancing world.
“The principles at the heart of this organization and our democracies are being challenged by authoritarian governments who argue that their model is better able to meet the basic needs of the people. Some of these governments are actively undermining the rules-based system. that have been fundamental to the security and prosperity of our countries for generations,” Blinken said without naming specific nations.
Blinken said that member states must “prove that our approach can create a better life for people … in all countries and in a way that is more equitable than in the past” while “holding themselves accountable”.
Blinken’s week-long visit includes a stop at Stanford University in the western US state of California and meetings in Mexico City on Thursday and Friday for US-Mexico high-level security talks.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said this week that he would join Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyercas and Attorney General Meric 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. Thousands of people were allowed to enter the US pending immigration hearings over asylum requests, while more than 2,000 were deported to the Caribbean country.
Ken Bredemeyer, Wayne Lee and Chris Hainas contributed to this report.