French foreign minister Le Drian to hold talks with Blinken after submarine row

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (left) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold in-depth talks on Oct 5, 2021.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (left) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold in-depth talks on Oct 5, 2021.PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS) - French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will hold talks with United States’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Oct 5, as the two countries aim to rebuild diplomatic ties in the wake of a row over a lucrative submarine contract which France lost.

“The two ministers will hold in-depth talks, following on from their meeting in New York on September 23, in order to identify the steps that will be needed to re-establish confidence between our two countries,” French Foreign Ministry spokesman Anne-Claire Legendre said in a statement.

“As the minister had said in New York, getting out of this crisis will take time and will need firm action,” she added.

Diplomatic relations between the US and France hit a low point last month, after Australia cancelled a previous multi-billion dollar French-designed submarine deal, to build instead at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology.

In retaliation, France briefly withdrew its ambassador to the US, although the ambassador has since returned to Washington DC.

France’s ambassador to Washington – Mr Philippe Etienne - tweeted on Saturday (Oct 2) a photo of him meeting Mr Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Advisor to US President Joe Biden.

“Important meeting with @JakeSullivan46 on the implementation of the joint statement by our Presidents to develop a common strategic agenda including on supporting French and European Union engagement in the Indo-Pacific, a stronger European Union defense and the United States’ and European Union’s fight against terrorism,” tweeted Mr Etienne.

President Joe Biden and President Emmanuel Macron have also talked pledging “in-depth consultations” on the two countries’ relations.

Mr Blinken visits Paris from Monday to Wednesday and will chair a meeting of ministers from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Mr Blinken will be joined by US climate envoy John Kerry, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and other US officials in Paris.