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French-US Meeting Despite AUKUS Tensions



French President Emmanuel Macron and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken have met on Tuesday in Paris.

A US official source revealed that Blinken’s previously unannounced one-on-one meeting with Macron lasted about 40 minutes.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the meeting resulted in a “common agreement that we have an opportunity now to deepen and strengthen the coordination” even though “a lot of hard work remains to be done”.

The meeting is the first of its kind between French and US officials since the AUKUS crisis.

The talks came a few days after US President Joe Biden declared willingness to repair the damage caused to ties by excluding France from AUKU.

Paris dissatisfaction

Paris has earlier expressed dissatisfaction after Australia signed the Aukus pact to build nuclear-powered submarines.

The deal will lead to pulling out of a major contract with France.

UK PM Boris Johnson said France had nothing to worry about from the deal.

But, France has cancelled Florence Parly’s meeting with UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in London this week.

Lord Ricketts, a former British ambassador to France who was due to co-chair the two days of talks, confirmed the meeting had been “postponed to a later date”.

The Aukus agreement brokered last week, widely seen as an effort to counter China’s influence in the contested South China Sea, ended a deal worth $37bn (£27bn) signed by Australia in 2016 for France to build 12 conventional submarines.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has described it as a “stab in the back”. He further said it constitutes “unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners”.

And in a rare step, French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the recall of the French ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.

“It’s really a stab in the back,” France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Info radio.

China on line as well

The pact also created a row with China which condemned the agreement as “extremely irresponsible”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said it “seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race”.

China’s embassy in Washington accused the countries of a “Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice”.

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