French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met to explore potential cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and other areas as the Biden administration moved to repair damage caused to relations by excluding France from a new security initiative, reported AP.
A senior U.S. State Department official said the two discussed possible joint projects that could be announced by Macron and President Joe Biden when they meet later this month at a date and venue that has yet to be decided. The official didn’t elaborate on what those projects might be.
The official spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door talks between Macron and Blinken at the Elysee Palace that had not appeared on Blinken’s official schedule for the day.
The roughly 40-minute, one-on-one meeting came amid French demands for the U.S. to restore trust that was ruptured with last month’s announcement of a three-way Indo-Pacific agreement between Australia, Britain and the U.S., known as AUKUS.
U.S. officials have acknowledged that the announcement was handled poorly and could have benefitted from coordination with France and other members of the European Union, all of which were excluded. And, while they have also signaled a desire to make amends, they have suggested France’s rage is an overreaction.
France responded with fury to the announcement that also scuttled a multibillion-dollar submarine contract it had with Australia, and briefly recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra in an unprecedented display of pique.
French officials called it a stab in the back by allies and expressed disappointment that it had happened after Biden had proclaimed America is back and pledged to restore and value trans-Atlantic relations that had soured during the Trump administration.