Kamala Harris aims to bolster ‘America’s oldest alliance’ on Paris trip

Issued on: 09/11/2021 – 10:49

US Vice President Kamala Harris arrives in Paris on Tuesday for a four-day visit aimed at restoring ties strained by a secret US-British submarine deal with Australia that left France in the lurch.

Harris will hold four days of meetings in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron and other world leaders, delivering remarks at a peace forum and taking part in a multilateral conference on Libya.

The schedule includes a one-on-one sit-down with Macron on Wednesday where Harris will take up President Joe Biden’s recent overtures aimed at restoring ties strained by the AUKUS submarine deal

Biden told Macron last week he had been “clumsy” in keeping France out of the loop on a US-Australian deal on nuclear-powered submarines, a move that prompted France to take the highly unusual step of temporarily recalling its ambassador in Washington.

The deal undercut an agreement worth more than $60 billion struck by a French defence contractor to sell diesel-powered submarines to Australia.

“The alliance between the United States and France is America’s oldest, and among our strongest,” Harris said in statement about her trip. “I look forward to discussing with President Macron our work together on the most urgent challenges of our time – including the climate crisis, the global health crisis, and regional security concerns.”

Libya conference

Harris was set to begin her visit on Tuesday by touring the renowned Institut Pasteur. Her mother, who was a scientist, collaborated with the institute’s scientists on breast cancer research in the 1980s.

A senior White House official said the vice president’s speech at the Paris Peace Forum on Thursday, which focuses this year on Covid recovery, would address “big, converging global crises”, targeting “rising inequality and the need for leaders around the world to join together and take bold action”.

Before returning to Washington, Harris will take part Friday in the Paris Conference on Libya, a diplomatic push to promote peaceful elections that could stem the tide of migrants fleeing the conflict-hit country for Europe.

“We want to build a stable and prosperous Libya free from foreign interference and capable of combating terrorism within its borders,” the official said.

The vice president has come under fire over her performance as the administration’s point person on America’s own migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border, which critics say has worsened since Biden came into office.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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