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France cancels reception in Washington, tone down celebrations for US-France War of Independence victory amid underwater spat


The embassy said the celebrations had been made “more sober” and the reception scheduled for Friday at the ambassador’s residence to mark the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Caps was called off. A reception on a frigate in Baltimore was also cut back, a senior French official told CNN, who said the changes were “to make people more comfortable.”

“It’s not anger. We’re not happy, but it’s the practical way to cope,” the official said. “In the context, we took some things from the program, kept others so that we kept the celebrations but don’t want people to have to be together.”

Other parts of the celebration will continue, including a wreath laying in Annapolis on Saturday and a French destroyer’s visit to Baltimore harbor on Monday.

The move comes a day after the United States announced a trilateral security deal with the Australians and the British focused on the Indo-Pacific region. Under the deal, the United States will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, which will cost Paris a multibillion-dollar submarine contract.
In a Tweeter French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Etienne noted on Wednesday: “It is interesting to note that exactly 240 years ago the French navy defeated the British navy in Chesapeake Bay, paving the way. victory at Yorktown and independence from the United States.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken sought Thursday to minimize the divide between the United States and France, stressing their importance as a “vital partner” in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.

“I want to stress that there is no regional division separating the interests of our partners in the Atlantic and the Pacific,” he told the State Department on Thursday.

The senior American diplomat said that the United States welcomed “European countries playing an important role in the Indo-Pacific”, adding that “France in particular is an essential partner on this subject and on many others which go back several generations, and we want to find every opportunity to deepen our transatlantic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and around the world. “

French officials on Wednesday expressed their anger at the new deal, with French foreign and defense ministers saying in a joint statement that “the decision is contrary to the letter and spirit of the cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of trust and on the development of a very high level defense industrial and technological base in Australia. “

“The American choice to exclude a European ally and partner like France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are faced with unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, whether in terms of our values ​​or in terms of respect for multilateralism. based on the rule of law, shows a lack of coherence that France can only observe and regret “, they declared.

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