PARIS (AP) – Kamala Harris is honoring America’s wartime alliances with France and meeting President Emmanuel Macron as she tries to smooth French feathers ruffled after a diplomatic drama.
The U.S. vice president paid her respects Wednesday to Americans who died in the two world wars and are buried in a cemetery overlooking the Paris skyline. To the notes of Taps, Harris laid a wreath in their honor and met with U.S. military service members at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial.
Among the more than 1,500 graves was that of Inez Crittenden, a World War I switchboard operator from Harris’ hometown of Oakland. Noting that was “one of the few jobs women could have” at the time, Harris said, “We’re very proud of her memory and her service.”
Crittenden died on Armistice Day - Nov. 11, 1918 - from pneumonia, likely caused by the flu pandemic of the era. Harris will attend Armistice Day commemorations in France on Thursday.
But a key part of her trip is a meeting with Macron on Wednesday evening, part of a weeks-long effort by Washington to mend relations with France, America’s oldest ally.
The U.S.-France relationship hit a historic low this year after a U.S.-British submarine deal with Australia scuttled a French contract to sell subs to the Australian navy. France was especially angry at being kept in the dark about the deal, calling it a “stab in the back” from a U.S. government that had painted itself as more respectful of allies than under Donald Trump’s presidency.
Late last month, President Joe Biden told Macron the U.S. had been “clumsy” in handling the issue.
Harris and Macron are expected to discuss how to better coordinate their efforts in the Indo-Pacific, as well as global health, space and other issues.
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