U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is shifting his focus to security talks with Mexico after working to soothe relations with ally France.
After a stop Thursday in the U.S. state of California, Blinken is joining U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland in Mexico City for what the State Department is calling a high-level dialogue on security issues.
Representing the Mexican side will be Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and Cabinet secretaries from defense and security agencies.
Ebrard said earlier this week he wants to see the United States extradite suspects to Mexico more quickly, to stem the flow of guns from the U.S. into Mexico and to improve efforts to trace the flow of money used by criminal organizations.
The U.S. side is expected to seek actions to combat the trafficking of illicit drugs such as fentanyl.
Blinken said Wednesday that his talks this week with top French officials were “very productive” and could lead to new collaboration between Washington and Paris to contain China’s military ventures in the Indo-Pacific region.
“It is vitally important to the U.S. that Europe in general, France in particular, be a strong and engaged partner in the Indo-Pacific,” Blinken said at a news conference in the French capital. He concluded his trip to Europe after talks with other foreign ministers at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Blinken suggested the United States and France also could work together on joint concerns in the Sahel region of Africa and on U.S.-European security.
While in Paris, Blinken met with French President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for talks aimed at continuing to patch up strained ties between the long-time allies following a dispute about a security partnership among the United States, Britain and Australia. Macron and U.S. President Joe Biden could announce joint projects when they talk later this month in Rome on the sidelines of a meeting of Group of 20 leaders.
The Biden administration last month announced the new security pact with Australia and Britain that angered Paris. Under the deal, Australia will get at least eight nuclear-powered submarines to be built domestically using American technology. The agreement came as Australia pulled out of an earlier deal with France for diesel-electric submarines.
The top U.S. diplomat said Biden told him to “take what is one of the most important relationships in the world and make it even better, make it even stronger.” Biden and Macron talked by phone after French anger at the submarine deal became apparent last month.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.