US Secretary of State Ends Visit to France with OECD Talks

After working to improve US-French relations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken concludes a visit to Paris on Wednesday (6/10) with the final day of ministerial-level talks at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Blinken highlighted several challenges while speaking at the opening of the meeting Tuesday, which include the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, injustice and rule-setting for a technologically advanced world.

“The principles at the heart of this organization and our democracy are opposed by authoritarian governments who argue their way is better in meeting the basic needs of the people. Some of those same governments are actively seeking to undermine the rules-based order that has been fundamental to the security and prosperity of our nations for generations,” Blinken said without naming specific countries.

Blinken said member states must “prove that our approach can improve people’s lives … in all countries and in a more equitable way than in the past” while holding “ourselves accountable.”

In addition to the final activities at Wednesday’s OECD meeting (6/10), Blinken held separate talks with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares and Colombian Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez.

Tensions over AUKUS

The first part of his visit to Paris is focused on mending strained relations with ally France following a dispute over the security partnership between the US, UK and Australia.

This includes a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, where a US official said Blinken and Macron discussed joint projects that the two sides might announce at a meeting later this month between Macron and US President Joe Biden.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the Blue Dot Network Discussion, Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in Paris, France, October 5, 2021.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the Blue Dot Network Discussion, Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in Paris, France, October 5, 2021.

“We can and should communicate better,” Blinken told France 2 television in an interview after meeting Macron. “We sometimes tend to underestimate a relationship as important and deep as the relationship between France and the US.”

The Biden government on September 15 announced a new security pact with Australia and Britain. Under the deal, Australia will get at least eight nuclear-powered submarines built at home using American technology. The deal comes after Australia withdrew from an earlier deal with France on diesel-electric submarines, which infuriated Paris.

France recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia within two days of the announcement. French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian said there was a “crisis of confidence” in the US.

Blinken to Mexico

Blinken’s week-long trip also includes a stopover at Stanford University and meetings in Mexico City on Thursday and Friday for the US-Mexico High-Level Security Dialogue.

He will join Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and US Attorney General Merrick Garland to discuss security issues, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said this week.

The summit comes in the midst of the recent migration crisis when tens of thousands of Haitian migrants gathered at the US-Mexico border last month.

The Biden government confirmed on Sept. 24 that a makeshift camp where 15,000 Haitian migrants are now empty.

In late September, Mexico also began to repatriate Haitian migrants back to their homeland. [uh/ab]

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