US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he would have a chance during talks in Paris on Tuesday to discuss restoring French trust in the United States following a row over a new Indo-Pacific security pact.
Blinken is in Paris seeking to rebuild diplomatic relations after the pact between the United States, Australia and Britain resulted in Canberra scuttling a $40 billion defence contract for French submarines.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian took Blinken on a walking tour of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs at Quai d'Orsay lasting about 90 minutes before the pair sat down for a meeting alongside other officials from both countries.
Asked how he would reassure the French that the United States could be trusted, Blinken said: "We'll have a chance to talk later."
The French government has said it was stabbed in the back by its close allies and that it would take time for the wounds to heal.
France briefly withdrew its ambassador to the United States over the affair, before French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden spoke by phone and agreed to hold in-depth consultations.
Blinken was also set to meet French National Security Advisor Emmanuel Bonne at the presidential Élysée Palace on Monday, but was not expected to meet Macron.
Washington has conceded that there should have been more consultation with the French before the nuclear-powered submarine deal – part of the so-called AUKUS security pact between the United States, Australia and Britain – was announced on Sept. 15.
Despite leaving France in the dark on the submarine deal and a major new agreement focused on the Indo-Pacific, the Biden administration wants to deepen cooperation with France in that region, Karen Donfried, U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, told reporters ahead of Blinken's trip.
Washington would also seek more cooperation with Paris on fighting Islamist militants in West Africa's Sahel region and find ways to support French efforts to strengthen European security, as long as those efforts did not undermine NATO, Donfried said.