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France tells Blinken, ‘Welcome home’

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attend a joint press conference at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris, on June 25, 2021. – Blinken is on a week long trip in Europe traveling to Germany, France and Italy. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP)

France’s foreign minister on Friday told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “welcome home” as the French-speaking, Paris-raised American diplomat opened his first visit to the country.

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Blinken’s trip to Paris comes as President Joe Biden seeks to revitalise relations with European allies — tense under Donald Trump — in the face of a rising China and an assertive Russia.

“My dear Tony, I’m really very happy to welcome you to Paris,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said as he opened talks with Blinken in an ornate room of the Quai d’Orsay.

“It’s expected that you would visit Paris because you’re at home here. I would even be tempted to say, welcome home!”

Blinken moved to Paris as a child with his stepfather, the lawyer Samuel Pisar, and attended high school in the French capital before returning to the United States for university and a career in Democratic foreign policy circles.

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Blinken greeted Le Drian in French before switching to English for the benefit of the rest of the US delegation.

“We are stronger and more effective when we work together,” Blinken said.

“Together we have an opportunity to demonstrate our democracies can deliver real results,” he added, echoing a common theme for Biden.

Blinken travelled to Paris from Germany, which hailed a revival of relations after the turbulence under Trump.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she saw a growing consensus with the United States on China and Russia, despite Berlin’s generally more cooperative stances with the two powers.

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