United Nations, United States:
Top French and US diplomats said on Thursday that repairing the relationship would take time as Paris demanded action to allay its anger over the cancellation of a huge submarine contract.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, after days of indifference, met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the worst crisis in allied relations since the war in Iraq.
France’s top diplomat told Blinken that US President Joe Biden’s phone conversation a day earlier with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron was the start of a confidence-building process.
“He recalled that a first step had been taken with the appeal between the two presidents but stressed that the resolution of the crisis between our two countries would take time and would require action”, indicates a statement from the French Ministry of Affairs. foreigners.
France was furious when Australia last week canceled a multibillion-dollar contract for French submarines, deciding instead that it needed US nuclear versions amid mounting tensions with China.
Le Drian accused Australia of stabbing in the back and the United States of treason, calling the move reminiscent of the one-sided attitude of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
Blinken, a francophone who grew up partly in Paris, appeared remorseful as he addressed reporters later in the day after the hour-long closed-door meeting at the French United Nations mission.
He expressed his personal respect for Le Drian and, reiterating a White House statement, said the episode would have “benefited from open consultations among allies.”
Blinken pledged to work to restore trust with France, the United States’ longest-standing ally, and stressed common interests, notably in the French campaign against the extremist Islamic State group.
“I am convinced that our interests together are so strong, the values we share so unwavering, that we will go on and do a good job, but it will take time; it will take hard work,” Blinken told reporters. .
Blinken has said he will continue talks with Le Drian, just as Biden has agreed to meet with Macron at the end of next month.
The Drian, however, maintained its icy distance from its counterparts in Australia and Great Britain.
Macron agreed to fire the French ambassador who was withdrawn from Washington in protest, but showed no sign that France would return his envoy to Canberra soon.
The French naval group said it would soon send an itemized invoice to Australia for the contract cancellation.
Australia only became the second nation after Britain to access US nuclear submarine technology and announced a new three-way alliance with Washington and London.
Blinken has vowed to work closely with France in the US strategy toward the Indo-Pacific, seen by the Biden administration as the top priority amid China’s growing assertiveness.
Other European countries, including Germany, have expressed solidarity with France, saying the US move goes against Biden’s pressure for closer relations with his allies.
But U.S. officials said the new three-way alliance has also found support, notably from Japan, another country long concerned about China.
Biden is hosting a first-ever four-way summit in Washington on Friday with the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan.
(This story was not edited by The Bharat Express News on Social Platforms.)