Blinken calls France vital partner in Indo-Pacific

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2021. Drew Angerer/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that the United States welcomes European countries playing an important role in the Indo-Pacific and said France in particular is a vital partner.

Blinken spoke at a news conference after meetings between the U.S. and Australian foreign and defense ministers in Washington, a day after the United States and Britain said they would provide Australia with the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines – something that replaces a French submarine deal with Australia.

France has reacted angrily to the loss of the $40 billion deal, calling it a “stab in the back.”

Blinken said the United States had been in touch with French counterparts in the last 24-48 hours to discuss the new partnership wit Australia. He said the United States places “fundamental value” in its relationship with France.

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