Vice President Kamala Harris will pursue US efforts to strengthen a recently mended French-American relationship during a trip to Paris next week, where she will also attend a pair of international conferences.
Harris will sit down for a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace next Wednesday before delivering remarks at the Macron-hosted Paris Peace Forum and participating in a multilateral conference on Libya.
Harris’ trip comes less than two months after France temporarily recalled its ambassador to the US to protest a US nuclear submarine deal with Australia, which sank a separate French contract to build conventional submarines for Australia. President Joe Biden last week sat down with Macron on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome and acknowledged that the US had been “clumsy” in its handling of the matter.
“The key message for this meeting is the importance of this relationship and the fact that US-French partnership matters to the world,” a senior administration official said of the Harris-Macron meeting.
Harris will be the most senior American official to attend the Paris Peace Forum since it was launched in 2018, though senior administration officials declined to say whether her attendance was part of an effort to mend the US-French rift.
The senior administration official said the Biden administration is “forward-looking” in its relationship with France and that Harris will look to strengthen French-American cooperation “in concrete ways,” though the official declined to say specifically how Harris would seek to improve the relationship.
The official said Harris and Macron plan to have a “wide-ranging discussion across a range of issues to include the bilateral relationship, European security, the Indo-Pacific, global health, space and a number of other subjects.”
A second senior official said Harris’ remarks at the Paris Peace Forum on November 11 — which will focus this year on global health and post-Covid recovery — will address “big, converging global crises” with a focus on “the challenge of rising inequality and the need for leaders around the world to join together and take bold action.”
Harris will join Macron and other world leaders for a dinner following the forum.
She is set to arrive in Paris on Tuesday and return to the US the following Saturday.
Officials said Harris will tour the Institut Pasteur, a biomedical research institute, after her arrival and meet with French and American scientists working on Covid-19 and pandemic research.
Harris will visit the Suresnes American Cemetery, just outside of Paris, on the eve of Veterans Day and participate in an Armistice Day ceremony the following day, visits intended to demonstrate “the years that France and the United States have stood together, our shared values and our commitment to continue doing the right things together around the world,” the first senior administration official said.
On November 12, Harris will participate in an international conference on Libya alongside 20 heads of state and government, including Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“The vice president is attending to show US support for the Libyan people as they work to reestablish their sovereignty and establish lasting peace,” the second senior administration official said. “We want to show our support for the Libyan people as they move towards national elections and as they focus on the importance of the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries and fighters.”
The official said Harris will also express “deep concern for human rights and the situation of migrants and refugees.”
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