US says Blinken expects to speak to France

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to exchange views with France on a crisis in ties, a US official says (AFP/KENA BETANCUR)
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expects to exchange views Wednesday with his French counterpart on a crisis in ties even though no one-on-one meeting is scheduled, an official said.

Blinken and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will both participate at the UN General Assembly in a closed-door meeting for the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council.

"They will certainly be in the room tomorrow at the P5 ministerial and have a chance to exchange views on a number of things," the official told reporters Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will join the talks of the five powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

The official said that a separate four-way meeting of transatlantic powers -- Britain, France, Germany and the United States -- will not take place at the level of ministers but that talks were happening at a lower level.

Blinken will also speak with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who has voiced solidarity with France in its anger.

France was infuriated last week when Australia ditched a massive contract for French conventional submarines and said it would seek US nuclear ones, citing the changing security environment.

France accused the United States of betrayal and Australia of back-stabbing, and warned of an impact on the relationship.

The United States has voiced hope at lowering tensions with its ally, with President Joe Biden expecting to speak in the coming days by telephone with his counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

US officials said Blinken, a fluent French speaker, also discussed the crisis in ties with France's ambassador in Washington, Philippe Etienne, before he was recalled to Paris for consultations in a protest.

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