Blinken calls France vital partner in Indo-Pacific


FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2021. Drew Angerer/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that the United States welcomes European countries playing an important role in the Indo-Pacific and said France in particular is a vital partner.

Blinken spoke at a news conference after meetings between the U.S. and Australian foreign and defense ministers in Washington, a day after the United States and Britain said they would provide Australia with the technology and capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines - something that replaces a French submarine deal with Australia.

France has reacted angrily to the loss of the $40 billion deal, calling it a "stab in the back."

Blinken said the United States had been in touch with French counterparts in the last 24-48 hours to discuss the new partnership wit Australia. He said the United States places "fundamental value" in its relationship with France.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Humeyra Pamuk, Doina Chiacu and David Brunnstrom; editing by Grant McCool)

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