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Harris in Paris: VP’s Trip Signals U.S. Relationship With France is Back on Track

Harris in Paris: VP’s Trip Signals U.S. Relationship With France is Back on Track

Kamala Harris is proving that you don’t have to be showy; sometimes, you just have to show up.

The Vice President has received criticism from the conservative news media for not being a ubiquitous public presence, as if Mike Pence was on a constant goodwill tour, but she’s handled it with her usual tact and aplomb by essentially ignoring it entirely. Focused on President Joe Biden’s mission to repair the fractured relationship between the United States and its European allies caused by their predecessors, the VP made her first overseas trip all about personal attention, not publicity stunts or awkward photo ops.

The trip also served as an opportunity for Harris to emerge onto the European diplomatic stage for the first time as Vice President, successfully playing an important foreign policy role for the Biden administration after right-wing media critics judged her harshly during her first foreign trip to Mexico and Guatemala in June.

The VP’s meeting with Macron followed the President’s, where he apologized for the mistakes made by the Trump administration’s pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, something Macron teased back on Inauguration Day.

The VP’s trip produced two successful agreements, expanded US-French space cooperation, and a US decision to sign onto the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, a French initiative setting rules of the road in cyberspace. The visit also gave her and Macron an opportunity to spend time one-on-one, without aides present, before sitting down for a bilateral meeting that went over time, prompting French protocol officials to enter the room three times in an effort to wrap up the meeting.

The Vice President’s Paris trip also included a stop at the French biomedical research Pasteur Institute, which highlighted the longstanding French-American cooperation on scientific research. It also had a personal connection for the VP: her mother had done significant scientific research there in the 1980s. She also made a somber visit to Suresnes American Cemetery, where Americans who fought and died in France during World Wars I and II are buried, a powerful reminder of the shared sacrifice between the two countries and a deeply rooted historical bond.

“If there is any question about the why or the what, in terms of our relationship as the United States with France, that is one visual and one concrete example of the endurance and the mutual commitment and interdependence between the United States and France,” Vice President Harris said on Friday, reflecting on her visit to the cemetery.

 

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