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Vice President Harris to Meet With Macron During Paris Visit

October 22, 2021 by Dan McCue
Vice President Kamala Harris waves at the end of a virtual town hall, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON – Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in November in the administration’s latest attempt to repair the diplomatic damage caused by a botched submarine agreement.

The White House announced Friday that Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff will be in Paris Nov. 11 and 12, where the vice president is scheduled to deliver a speech at the fourth annual Paris Peace Forum and also participate in the Paris Conference on Libya.

While in the city, the White House said, Harris and President Macron will meet to “discuss the importance of the transatlantic relationship to global peace and security and underscore the importance of our partnership on global challenges from COVID-19 and the climate crisis to issues affecting the Sahel and the Indo-Pacific.”

But it is sure to be the frayed American-French alliance that is top of mind with the press and observers during the two-day visit.

In September, Macron was reportedly shocked to learn that Australia was bailing on a $66 billion submarine contract it signed with France in 2016, and opting to join the U.S. and the U.K. in a trilateral security partnership, AUKUS, which lists the development of nuclear submarines for Australia as priority No. 1. 

In France, the Australian contract was seen as a source of national pride, particularly after it beat out both Germany and Japan for the opportunity to replace an aging Aussie submarine fleet with 12 new diesel-electric vessels.

The problem with the AUKUS deal is that nobody bothered to tell Macron. Claiming he’d been blindsided, he immediately recalled France’s ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia.

In addition, Macron initially refused to take a call from Biden for days after the Indo-Pacific alliance was announced.

When the two leaders finally did talk, Biden reportedly apologized and said the U.S. should not have left France in the dark.

Since then, Macron’s anger has shown no signs of subsiding, and he has insisted the Biden administration demonstrate its contrition in deeds not just words.

Toward that end, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting Paris this week, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will arrive there later on Friday.

In addition to her other scheduled events, the vice president and second gentleman will mark  Veterans Day in the United States and Armistice Day in France by visiting the Suresnes American Cemetery, the resting place of 1,541 American soldiers killed in World War I.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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