Vice President Kamala Harris and French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday they look forward to closer US-French cooperation as they sat down for a bilateral meeting at the Elysée Palace aimed at revitalizing US-French ties.
Both countries are looking to rebuild trust after the US struck a surprise deal with Australia in September to help that country develop nuclear submarines, sinking a French submarine contract with Australia in the process. Harris’s five-day trip to Paris is the latest step in a weeks-long diplomatic effort by the US to make amends.
Macron thanked Harris for coming to Paris and said he was “extremely grateful” for her presence and that “the French people are extremely proud to have you.” He also noted that he had a “very fruitful meeting” with President Joe Biden in Rome last month on the sidelines of the G20.
“We do share the view that we are at the beginning of a new era and our cooperation is absolutely critical for this one,” Macron said.
Harris thanked Macron for inviting her to Paris and noted that “when the United States and France have worked together on challenges and opportunities, we have always found great success.”
Harris also spoke of the world entering a “new era” and said she looked forward to discussing areas of cooperation with France, including in scientific research, space, cyberspace and climate change, and vowed to “continue to work together and renew the focus that we have always had on our partnership.”
Harris and Macron both ignored shouted questions as reporters were escorted out of the room.
Neither of the two leaders explicitly reference the submarine affair and senior Biden administration officials have stressed that the US is “looking forward” in its relationship with France.
Harris’ meeting with Macron came toward the end of her second day in Paris, hours after she visited the Suresnes American Cemetery to pay her respects to American service members who died in World Wars I and II on the eve of Veteran’s Day.
Harris began her trip to Paris on Tuesday with a visit to the Pasteur Institute, a leading French biomedical research institute, where her mother had conducted research in the ’80s.
The vice president is also slated to deliver remarks at the Paris Peace Forum on Thursday and will attend a conference on Libya on Friday alongside other world leaders.
Pacts on cyberspace and ‘new frontier in space’
Harris, the chair of the National Space Council, announced in a statement after the meeting that the US Department of Defense, the director of national intelligence, NASA and others would work with their French counterparts to “establish a regular bilateral dialogue to ensure a whole-of-government approach to space cooperation.”
During her meeting with Macron, Harris described the dialogue as a way to create “rules of the road” for the “new frontier in space.”
Harris’ statement says the two countries will work on shared goals regarding space, including “expanding the frontiers of space,” increasing access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and “enabling a sustainable space economy.”
They also committed to “an initial emphasis on expanding cooperation to address the climate crisis,” according to the release. As part of that, the US committed to joining the Space Climate Observatory, an international initiative on climate change, in cooperation with France’s National Center for Space Studies.
Harris also announced in the meeting with Macron that the US will support the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, which the statement called “a voluntary commitment to work with the international community to advance cybersecurity and preserve the open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet.”
This story has been updated with further developments Wednesday.