U.S.-French relations strained since Australia canceled French submarine purchase for US subs and new alliance with US, UK

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit France next week as the Biden administration tries to smooth over hurt feelings and potentially more lasting damage caused by its exclusion of America’s oldest ally from a new Indo-Pacific security initiative, the State Department said Friday, the Associated Press reports.

The department said Blinken will visit Paris starting Monday for an international economic conference but highlighted that he will also meet with French officials to discuss the rupture in relations.

The administration has been scrambling to mend fences with France and the European Union more broadly since the Sept. 15 announcement of the Australia-U.S.-UK agreement, known as AUKUS, which canceled a multibillion-dollar Australian-France submarine deal.

All sides agree it will take time to repair those ties. The State Department said Blinken’s talks will be aimed at “further strengthening the vital U.S.-France relationship on a range of issues including security in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Ahead of his visit, Blinken met Friday with French Ambassador Philippe Etienne on his return to Washington after having been recalled to Paris by French President Emmanuel Macron. The recall was an unprecedented display of anger to protest the exclusion of France and the European Union from AUKUS, which is aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.

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