During my visit to Washington, D.C., on July 13 and 14, I met with my counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as well as with President Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan. I also held discussions with several representatives from the United States Senate.
All of my discussions supported the constructive and trusting mindset in which France and the United States’ relationship is conducted, building on the discussions President Macron has had with President Biden on the sidelines of recent G7 and NATO Summits and the Secretary of State’s visit to Paris on June 25. I welcome the positive positions taken by the U.S. Administration with regard to a rebalanced transatlantic relationship, close cooperation with the European Union and the necessary pursuit of the strengthening of Europeans’ capabilities and action which will help make the North Atlantic Alliance more solid.
I noted a deepening of our bilateral relationship on every level – economic, cultural and human. I stressed in this context the importance of more extensive work to determine the conditions for a swift reopening of borders between Europe and the United States, given the many difficulties the travel ban issued by the Trump Administration continues to cause. When it comes to the economy, we have agreed to create a bilateral working group on energy, including civil nuclear energy, which will be jointly led by the ministers and secretaries in charge of foreign affairs and energy in our two countries.
I talked with the Secretary of State about the need to continue transatlantic trade de-escalation, following the European decision in June to suspend the second tranche of rebalancing measures on steel and aluminum. Following on from the recent G7 Summit and the G20 ministerial meeting, we also discussed stepping up our joint efforts to tackle climate change and closer international cooperation to continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including with a view to ambitious reform of the World Health Organization. Regarding the climate and biodiversity we discussed the preparation of major events in the second half of 2021: IUCN World Conservation Congress to be held in France in September, the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, and the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow. We agreed on close coordination in order to scale up the international community’s collective ambition ahead of these three events.
In line with decisions taken at the NATO Summit on June 14, I reiterated the need to take a firm position vis-à-vis Russia and to maintain dialogue that could foster a stable and predictable relationship with this country. In this context, we agreed to maintain close coordination, including within the framework of NATO, on the issue of arms control and strategic stability in order to prepare the next steps of dialogue with Russia. I also recalled France’s persistent efforts to help resolve the Ukrainian crisis, within the Normandy Format, and to encourage inclusive dialogue in Belarus, to address the unrest on which we will continue to take a very tough stance. I talked about our joint action as co-chairs of the Minsk Group to help achieve lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
We discussed extensively our coordination on issues in the IndoPacific, which must remain a free and open region. This means taking a balanced approach regarding China, which France has actively been working to do alongside its neighbors and partners in the region. We of course talked about defining this balance, which has now become crucial. We agreed on the need to coordinate our work in the appropriate forums – starting with the European Union-United States framework – to determine a clear-sighted and pragmatic approach, in line with what China is to us, on both sides of the Atlantic: a partner, a competitor and systemic rival at the same time. We agreed to step up our exchanges on this problem.
I also had the opportunity to raise the issue with my U.S. interlocutors of the very close coordination of our two countries on international crises.
Regarding Sahel, I confirmed France’s commitment to continuing the existing political and military cooperation based on trust between our two countries in fighting terrorism, amid the complete overhaul of the International Coalition for the Sahel that we are going to begin with our Coalition partners.
We discussed Ethiopia where the Tigray situation is of particular concern. The ceasefire must be consolidated and humanitarian assistance must be delivered to the people as a matter of urgency. Lastly, following the national elections won by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, we would like a new phase of domestic dialogue to begin which respects the country’s unity and integrity.
I underscored our strong concerns about the situation in Haiti and the need for strong international action, including by the Security Council to avoid an escalation of the crisis this country is currently experiencing.
Regarding Lebanon, I agreed with the Secretary of State to continue very close coordination of our actions in support of a government that is able to conduct the reforms needed to lead this country out of the political, economic and humanitarian crisis it is experiencing. We will coordinate the measures of French and American pressure against those responsible for this impasse, in addition to the decisions taken by the Foreign Affairs Council on July 12. We will work together to rally the support of our regional partners for these efforts, following the move of both the French and American ambassadors to Riyadh on July 8.
Regarding Iran, I noted complete convergence of our positions, in favor of the swift and satisfactory conclusion of negotiation to return to a full implementation of the agreement reached in Vienna, and guarantee the non-proliferation benefits expected of this agreement, and amid our growing concerns about the recent initiatives taken by Iran in the field.
Regarding Iraq, I underscored our concern about the resurgence of attacks on the strongholds of the Global Coalition against Daesh and the importance of working with Iraq on ways to begin a de-escalation of tensions, while continuing our combat against Daesh, as Coalition ministers reiterated in Rome on June 28.