Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Paris this morning for a four-day charm offensive aimed at Emmanuel Macron after Joe Biden‘s ‘clumsy’ handling of the row over the new US-British submarine deal with Australia.
Harris touched down aboard Air Force Two with her lawyer husband Douglas Emhoff ahead of a meeting with Macron at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday.
There is pressure on the VP to smooth over the cracks after Macron was stunned by Washington’s new Aukus security pact with Australia and Britain in September.
Macron furiously recalled the US ambassador over the snub which saw Australia shred a submarine contract with the French worth AU$90million in favor of a new deal with the US and the UK.
Harris will sit down with Macron to discuss how the two nations can coordinate efforts in the Indo-Pacific, where the Aukus alliance is also focused.
The high-level meeting comes less than two weeks after Biden met Macron on the margins of the Group of 20 summit in Rome and acknowledged that his administration had handled the submarine deal in a ‘clumsy’ way.
Harris, 57, (waving with her husband Doug Emhoff as they depart) touched down at Orly aboard Air Force Two ahead of a meeting with Macron at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday
Harris chats with reporters briefly before getting into her armored Chevrolet suburban and heading into town
Kamala Harris and First Gentleman Douglas Emhoff walk down the stairs after arriving in Paris Orly on Air Force Two on Tuesday morning
Harris and Emhoff are welcomed after disembarking from Air Force Two upon their arrival at the Orly airport
Harris and Emhoff are greeted by (LtoR) Whitney Baird, Charge daffaires at the US Mission to OECD, Brian Aggeler, Charge d’affaires ad interim at the US Embassy in Paris, Pierre Marchand-Lacour, Sous-Prefet and Director of the Cabinet of the Governor of Val-de-Marne and Stephen Duso-Bauduin, Deputy Head of Ceremonial, State Protocol and Diplomatic Events Directorate at Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Paris-Orly Airport in Orly
Harris and Emhoff are greeted by Whitney Baird (2ndL), Charge daffaires a.i. at the US Mission to OECD, and Brian Aggeler (R), Charge d’affaires ad interim at the US Embassy in Paris
Harris and Emhoff meet with the American diplomatic staff and French officials before getting into their armoured car for transportation into the city
Air Force Two, the Vice President’s plane, on the runway at Paris Orly airport on Tuesday morning
A French officer salutes the jet as it arrives carrying the US Vice President Harris on Tuesday morning
Harris is accompanied by a US Air Force officer as she makes her way to the plane at the airport in Maryland last night
Harris and Emhoff wave for the cameras as thy prepare to jet off for Paris from Maryland last night
Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff wave as they board Air Force Two en route to Paris
The U.S. and Britain’s agreement to provide Australia with submarine technology has been framed as opportunity for the U.S. to bolster a key Pacific ally’s naval capacity as the Biden administration has become increasingly concerned about China’s military aggressiveness in the region.
But France was livid, saying it was kept in the dark about the deal and its interests were ignored despite having territories in the Indo-Pacific with 2 million people and 7,000 troops.
The French also complained that the episode undercut Biden’s message that he would stabilize and strengthen the trans-Atlantic alliance after four years of President Donald Trump’s ‘America first’ approach to foreign policy.
France even briefly withdrew its ambassador from the U.S. in protest, the first time it had done so in some 250 years of diplomatic relations between the nations.
‘The alliance between the United States and France is America’s oldest, and among our strongest,’ Harris said in statement about her trip. ‘I look forward to discussing with President Macron our work together on the most urgent challenges of our time – including the climate crisis, the global health crisis, and regional security concerns.’
Harris said she and Macron would also discuss new opportunities for collaboration in the area of space.
On Tuesday, she is scheduled to tour the renowned Institut Pasteur to meet with American and French scientists working on COVID-19 preparedness worldwide.
Officials said the visit will underscore the longstanding scientific exchanges between the US and France, and the determination to tackle global challenges, especially to to end the pandemic.
But the institute also has a personal symbolism for Harris. Her late mother, who was a scientist, conducted breast cancer research with the institute’s scientists in the 1980s.
Harris and her husband shake hands with USAF staff as they arrive at Air Force Two for their flight to Paris
Harris and Emhoff chat with USAF staff as bodyguards standing by the stairway keep watch
Harris and her husband are accompanied by USAF officers as they prepare to board their jet to Paris last night
Harris will deliver a speech on Thursday at the annual Paris Peace Forum and participate the following day in the Paris Conference on Libya.
The vice president is looking to pick up where Biden left off in Rome in efforts to make clear that that he sees the relationship with France as critical to the U.S.
To that end, she and Emhoff will visit Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial just outside Paris. The 7.5-acre (3 hectare) cemetery contains the remains of 1,559 Americans who died in World War I and 23 unknown dead of World War II.
Harris will also participate in a ceremony to mark Armistice Day, the French commemoration of the end of World War I. Thursday is also Veterans Day in the United States.