Blinken in Paris for talks on Ukraine, Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday on supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia and the Israel-Hamas conflict.

BSS/AFP

Apr 2 2024 4:09 AM

Blinken in Paris for talks on Ukraine, Gaza
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. File Photo

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday on supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia and the Israel-Hamas conflict.

France is among major military suppliers to Ukraine, which has faced critical shortages of arms and troops as it holds off an onslaught of Russian attacks.

The United States has been the key military backer for Ukraine but a $60 billion aid package has been held up in Congress.

Paris has also advocated for a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The United States, Israel's main ally, recently let pass a UN Security Council resolution that calls for a ceasefire during the month of Ramadan.

Blinken will meet with Macron to discuss the mounting international crises, the French presidency told AFP. He will also have talks with Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne.

France held an international conference in February in a bid to rally financial and military support for Ukraine. The results will be reviewed by Blinken and French leaders, officials said.

Both sides want an "intensification" of support for Ukraine, a member of Sejourne's entourage said.

The French minister was in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the Gaza war and in China on Monday to urge Beijing to press Russia over the Ukraine war.

The French foreign ministry said Sejourne and Blinken will discuss preparations for a NATO summit in Washington in July, as well as the "crises" in the Middle East, Ukraine and Sudan.

They will hold a joint press conference after their meeting.

In a symbolic visit, Blinken was to accompany France's Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu to a factory near Paris of Franco-German defence group
KNDS, which makes artillery guns being used in Ukraine.

Blinken is also to go to the Paris headquarters of the UN cultural organisation, UNESCO, that the United States rejoined last year. Blinken will hold a meeting with UNESCO leader Audrey Azoulay.

The visit marks the first trip to France for Blinken, a fluent French speaker, in nearly two years.

Macron paid a state visit to Washington in December 2022.

After Paris, Blinken will head to Brussels for NATO foreign ministers' talks ahead of the alliance's 75th anniversary summit in Washington in July.

Blinken will also hold a three-way meeting in Brussels with EU leaders and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who has been seeking to branch out from his country's historic alliance with Russia.

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