The US Secretary of State met privately with the French Foreign Minister for more than an hour. But as both sides tried to advance, the French anger was evident.
PARIS – Step by Step, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Tuesday sought to build trust between the United States and France after a secret submarine deal that laid bare the Biden administration’s resolve to counter China – even pulling out one Even at the expense of one of America’s oldest allies.
For more than an hour, Mr Blinken paced the ornate halls of the Quai d’Orsay in Paris, so that the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, would discuss Australia’s decision to buy nuclear-powered submarines from the United Nations. Allow private venting sessions. The states are abandoning an earlier $66 billion contract for diesel-powered ones from France.
The ongoing and conversations between the two counterparts and longtime friends underscored the importance of placing a personal touch on matters of delicate diplomacy. It was suggestive – if perhaps not as important – of Ronald Reagan. walk in the woods To redefine US-Russian relations in 1985 with Mikhail Gorbachev, or the well-intentioned dawn Strolls President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski K with foreign leaders during the Camp David peace accord between Israel and Egypt in 1978.
But in the end, Mr. Le Dren literally shrugged off the question of what it would take to convince France that the United States was a reliable partner, which still prompts raging anger, even as both sides move forward. agree to. Mr Blinken offered that “happy to be here,” but declined to comment otherwise.
The subpoena is one aspect of a larger tension between France and the United States over its strategy in the Indo-Pacific region and, more broadly, Europe’s long-term military goals.
According to the French government, there are at least 1.5 million French citizens living in the Indo-Pacific countries, and about 8,000 soldiers live in the region. France also has a large Exclusive Economic Zone.
French President Emmanuel Macron has sought to address the tense divide between China and the United States, which is refocusing its attention on countering Beijing. Taking up policies that began during the President Biden, Obama and Trump administrations, more stringent than in Europe against China and its human rights abuses, military encroachment into international waters, inherent threats to Taiwan, and trade disputes with the United States vowel is adopted.
In turn, this has made the trans-Atlantic connection more casual than it once was – much to the dismay of much of Europe.
Bruno Tertrais, deputy director of the Foundation for Strategic Research, which studies international security, said the submarine deal “shocked France together” and led to Mr Macron’s vision of an autonomous Europe working with the two global powers.
Mr Tertrice said Australia’s breach of contract for the submarines, and the role the United States and Britain played in brokering it, “saw our strategy in the Indo-Pacific, and the end of any hope of France.” Gaya. Be a part of the Anglo-speaking ‘Five Eyes’ club.”
The Five Eyes Alliance – Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – is an elite intelligence-sharing consortium.
Mr Tertrice said what has also bothered him is “how our American friends don’t understand this.” Despite America’s obsession with China, he said, “I’m surprised that our American friends want to resume talks as if nothing significant happened.”
In recent days, French officials have coldly suggested that the submarines deal gave China an opportunity to divide allies.
He also pointed to clumsy diplomacy on the deal, the latest example of the United States putting its own interests first. It was announced just weeks after the Biden administration’s withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, even in the midst of chaos and a humanitarian disaster there, only served to underscore his point.
yet in one Paper for Institut MontaigneMr Tertrais, and the former French ambassador, Michel Duclos, advised the French government to “reduce its rhetoric about the actions of its allies” and “not rely solely on the EU”, noting that France It is a nuclear state, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a major maritime presence in Asia.
Instead, he concluded, France should intensify its diplomacy with others in the region, such as India and Japan, while coordinating with Washington and its other allies regarding regional strategy.
“The big question is how France will position itself in what some call the ‘new Cold War’, which is beginning between China and the West,” wrote Mr Tertrais and Mr Duclos.
French officials have also held onto the submarine deal as a renewed push for a European military approach that is more independent of the United States.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fonteles, presented a new EU strategy for the Indo-Pacific last month, saying “we must survive on our own, as others do,” multifaceted with China. Engagement” and avoid direct confrontation.
But support for a more Eurocentric Defense Compact has blossomed and withered over the years. Many European nations, including Germany, suspect military alliances could undermine the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and reduce the overwhelming support it receives from the United States in the form of money, troops and materials.
French officials dealing with Brussels are realistic about how slow Europe’s progress towards military capability really is, and they have downplayed hopes for a French presidency of the European Union starting January 1.
Persuading the French government to move on from the diplomatic dispute, in which Paris recalled its ambassador to Washington, is a deeply personal mission for Mr. Blinken. He considers Mr Le Drian a friend, and was saddened by the accusation that the United States had tricked France into failing to warn Paris that it was about to hit the submarine deal.
After Mr Blinken made Paris his first overseas destination, it was not lost on anyone, meaning he would need to double across the United States for meetings in Mexico this weekend.
Mr Blinken also spoke with Mr Macron in an unscheduled meeting on Tuesday morning. A senior State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to reporters traveling with Mr Blinken, later described talks with French leaders as cordial and identified “concrete action” to fix the breakdown. intended to do. Those efforts will be discussed more extensively at the expected meeting between Biden and Macron during the gatherings of world leaders in Europe later this month.
Senior European officials speaking at a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development went ahead. To mark the 60th anniversary of the creation of the 38-nation grouping, the drama of the submarine deal was not mentioned during public comments at a forum located a few miles from the French Foreign Ministry.
Instead, officials focused on the economic crisis created by the coronavirus and climate change – and how both have exacerbated financial inequality around the world. In a speech to the forum, Mr Blinken did not mention China by name, but cited the “challenge of shaping regulations for new and emerging technologies” to ensure that they are not used to oppress or harm minority communities. Not intended to be targeted, as Beijing has been accused of doing.
“The core principles 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,” Mr. Blinken said. “Some of these governments are actively trying to undermine the rules-based system that has been fundamental to the security and prosperity of our countries for generations.”
“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” he said.
Mr Blinken has based his leadership of the State Department on restoring international alliances after the uproar from the Trump administration. In a brief encounter with journalists, it was noted that the forum was being held in Europe at an interesting time to discuss American cooperation.
“That’s what we’re all about,” replied Mr. Blinken.