Blinken to visit Paris in effort to mend ties following submarine dispute

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French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will hold talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on October 5 as the two countries aim to rebuild diplomatic ties in the wake of a row over a lucrative submarine contract that France lost.

“The two ministers will hold in-depth talks following on from their meeting in New York on September 23, in order to identify the steps that will be needed to re-establish confidence between our two countries,” French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said in a statement.

“As the minister had said in New York, getting out of this crisis will take time and will need firm action,” she added.

Diplomatic relations between the United States and France hit a low point last month after Australia cancelled a 2016 multibillion-dollar deal for French-designed submarines, opting instead for nuclear-powered submarines using US and British technology.

In retaliation, France briefly withdrew its ambassador to the United States and Canberra, although the US ambassador has since returned to Washington.

France’s ambassador to Washington, Philippe Etienne, on Saturday tweeted a photo of him meeting Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Advisor to US President Joe Biden.

“Important meeting with @JakeSullivan46 on the implementation of the joint statement by our Presidents to develop a common strategic agenda including on supporting French and European Union engagement in the Indo-Pacific, a stronger European Union defense and the United States’ and European Union’s fight against terrorism,” tweeted Etienne.

>> Perception that France is ‘too soft’ on China fed Australia submarine dispute

Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have pledged to hold “in-depth consultations” on bilateral relations.

Australia announced the submarine 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 views a rising China as the paramount concern of the United States in the 21st century.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters and AFP)

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