Harris, Macron to meet to soothe France-US tensions

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Harris' trip comes after a huge French-American row that erupted in September (AFP/Sarahbeth MANEY)
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US Vice President Kamala Harris meets with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday in a further effort to mend relations with Paris after a crisis sparked by a cancelled submarines contract.

Harris is set to sit down with Macron from 1700 GMT at the presidential palace on Wednesday on the second day of a four-day trip to France.

She is scheduled to attend a peace forum with other world leaders on Thursday, and an international conference on Libya on Friday.

Her trip comes after a huge Franco-American row erupted in September when Australia walked out of a multibillion-dollar submarines deal with Paris in favour of an alternative one with the United States.

During a tour on Tuesday of the famed Pasteur Institute in Paris, where Harris' mother conducted cancer research in the 1980s, the vice-president compared politics to scientific research -- and cooking.

"There will be glitches and there will be mistakes," she said. "If you don't make the same mistake twice... that's a good process and we should encourage it."

As she arrived on Tuesday, she said she was "looking forward to many, many days of productive discussions reinforcing the strength of our relationship."

The visit was announced after the subs row, and comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken was dispatched in early October in a first attempt to fix the crisis.

President Joe Biden also sought to make amends over the dispute at a meeting with Macron last month, telling the French leader that his government had been "clumsy" in the way it secured the submarines deal with Australia.

The deal, knowns as AUKUS, is part of a new strategic alliance between the United States, Australia and Britain.

Paris was left furious after Australia secretly negotiated to buy the US-designed nuclear submarines before ditching a $60 billion deal struck with French defence contractor Naval Group.

Harris and Macron are expected to discuss US support for France's military mission against jihadists in the Sahel, as well as French-backed plans to beef up European defence capabilities.

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