Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Paris on Tuesday as part of an effort to rekindle relations between France and the U.S.
The U.S. negotiated a submarine deal with Australia and the U.K. in September, essentially doing away with a deal France had with Australia thus enraging the French government. France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, called the move “a stab in the back.”
President Joe Biden downplayed the handling of the deal as being “clumsy” during the G-20 conference.
Harris’ five-day trip to France is her first to Europe since taking office. Her visit began by going to the Pasteur Institute in Paris on Tuesday to meet American and French scientists working on COVID-19 preparedness.
“Some of the most significant discoveries in science on any issue, from rabies to HIV-AIDS, to breast cancer, to mRNA and what we do around vaccines and pandemics, have occurred here in collaboration with French scientists, American scientists, scientists around the world coming together,” Harris, whose mother died of colon cancer, said.
She will also visit Suresnes American Cemetery and observe Armistice Day by honoring the sacrifice of both American and French troops in the world wars, she will also make an appearance at the Paris Peace Forum in what seems to be an olive branch to French President Emmanuel Macron, who started the conference which until now has up until now been neglected since 2018.
“We’re past the freefall phase and we’re in the phase where we both have agreed to rebuild, but we’re not quite clear yet what that looks like,” Barry Pavel, director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security who served as a senior director for defense policy at the National Security Council, said. “The President has already done step one … but this is step two.”
Harris’ Paris trip mirrors Biden’s time as vice president, when he embarked on a similar trip to Europe in 2009 to make amends with two European allies after then-President Barack Obama scrapped a planned missile defense system that left them apprehensive.
The vice president will also participate in the “Paris Conference on Libya,” where she will call for stronger borders for Libya. Domestically, Biden has appointed Harris as the country’s “border czar” amid the border crisis.
“Kamala Harris is jet setting to Paris to discuss the plight of Libyan migrants and global gender issues,” former Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said. “Meanwhile, in the United States, illegal border crossings are higher than ever, businesses can’t get supplies, and grocery bills keep rising. This administration could not be more out of touch with American families.