Blinken to hold talks in Paris after subs row

Washington (AFP) –


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks in Paris next week in a new bid to ease tensions after French anger over a submarine contract, the State Department announced Friday.

Blinken will travel to Paris from Monday through Wednesday for a meeting of the OECD club of advanced market economies and also meet French officials on "further strengthening the vital US-France relationship," spokesman Ned Price said.

Blinken and his French counterparts will discuss issues including "security in the Indo-Pacific region, the climate crisis, economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the transatlantic relationship and working with our allies and partners to address global challenges and opportunities," Price said in a statement.

Blinken will then fly from Paris to Mexico City for his first trip to the neighboring country as the top US diplomat, a trip already announced by the Mexican government.

France was infuriated last month when Australia canceled a multibillion-dollar deal for French submarines, saying it would pursue US nuclear versions as tensions rise with China.

France accused the United States of betrayal and Australia of back-stabbing and briefly withdrew its ambassador from Washington as a protest.

Tensions began to ease when President Joe Biden spoke by telephone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and acknowledged that the United States could have communicated better with its longtime ally.

Blinken had already been planning to visit for the 60th anniversary of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

He will co-chair an OECD ministerial that will look at promoting a green economy, a month before high-stakes UN climate talks in Glasgow.