After a push to patch U.S.-French relations, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken closes a Paris visit Wednesday with the final day of ministerial talks at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Blinken highlighted several challenges as he spoke at the opening of the meeting Tuesday, including the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis, inequity and setting rules for a technologically advancing world.
“The principles at the heart of this organization and our democracies are being challenged by authoritarian governments that argue their model is better at meeting people’s basic needs. Some of these same governments are actively seeking to undermine the rules-based order that has been fundamental to security and prosperity of our countries for generations,” Blinken said, without naming specific nations.
Blinken said member nations must “prove that our approach can make a better life for people … in all countries and in a way that’s more equitable than in the past” while holding “ourselves accountable.”
In addition to the final work at the OECD meetings Wednesday, Blinken is holding separate talks with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares and Colombian Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken and Di Maio discussed the need for Libyan leaders to do what is necessary to support national elections in December, as well as concern about the political and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia.
Blinken thanked both Di Maio and Albares for their governments’ efforts in helping evacuate people from Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
At the start of his meeting with Ramirez, Blinken said Colombia is a regional leader on democratic values and human rights, and that the United States and Colombia have a “lot on our common agenda now” such as work on climate change and counternarcotics.
Tensions over AUKUS deal
The first part of his Paris trip was focused on repairing strained ties with ally France following a dispute about a security partnership among the United States, Britain and Australia.
That included a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron during which a U.S. official said Blinken and Macron discussed joint projects the two sides could announce during a meeting later this month between Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden.
“We could and we should have communicated better,” Blinken told France 2 television in an interview after his meeting with Macron. “We sometimes tend to take for granted a relationship as important and deep as the one that links France and the United States.”
The Biden administration announced September 15 a new security pact with Australia and Britain. Under the deal, Australia will get at least eight nuclear-powered submarines to be built domestically using American technology. The agreement came as Australia pulled out of an earlier deal with France for diesel-electric submarines, which angered Paris.
France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia within two days following the announcement. Le Drian declared a “crisis of trust” in the United States.
Blinken heads to Mexico
Blinken’s weeklong trip also includes a stop at Stanford University, and meetings in Mexico City on Thursday and Friday for the U.S.-Mexico High Level Security Dialogue.
He will join U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to discuss security issues, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said this week.
The high-level meeting comes amid a recent migration crisis as tens of thousands of Haitian migrants gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border last month.
The Biden administration confirmed on September 24 that a makeshift camp where 15,000 Haitian migrants braved desperate conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border was now vacant.
In late September, Mexico also began flying Haitian migrants back to their homeland.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.
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