VP Kamala Harris lands in Paris to reinforce French ties, her own standing

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Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Paris early Tuesday to work with French President Emmanuel Macron on climate change and the COVID-19 fight while further easing the ruckus over a submarine deal with Australia that left France in the cold.

“We are focused on looking forward, not looking backward. France is one of the United States’s oldest and strongest allies,” Symone D. Sanders, a senior adviser and chief spokeswoman for Ms. Harris, told reporters en route to Orly Airport. “If we are going to tackle our global health challenges and prevent the next pandemic, we have to do this together.”

Ms. Harris said it was “good to be in France” as she touched down with her husband, Doug Emhoff.

“I am looking forward to many, many days of productive discussions reinforcing the strength of our relationship,” she said after her motorcade winded along the Seine River and past the Eiffel Tower.

Ms. Harris will use the five-day visit to focus on the plight of migrants and refugees in a meeting about Libya with other world leaders. She will also meet with Mr. Macron and other leaders on the sidelines, will speak at the Paris Peace Forum and participate in an Armistice Day ceremony.

Aides have described the vice president’s trip as important for U.S. alliances and crucial to addressing gender equality and “rising inequality” around the world, though it also serves as a chance to raise her profile and approval ratings that have dropped to as low as 28% amid criticism of her handling of the migrant crisis at the southern U.S. border and fallout from the U.S. exit from Afghanistan.

The trip comes less than two weeks after President Biden told Mr. Macron the U.S. was “clumsy” in its handling of a nuclear-powered submarine deal with Australia. The French said the deal was struck without their knowledge, depriving them of contracts worth billions because the Australians walked away from a prior deal with their sub manufacturers.

Ms. Harris will start her visit Tuesday with a tour of The Pasteur Institute, a nonprofit scientific foundation that is tracking variants of the coronavirus in Africa.

“This visit will underscore the longstanding scientific exchanges between the U.S. and France to tackle global challenges,” Ms. Sanders said.

Ms. Sanders said the vice president is mindful of action back home in Washington.

Ms. Harris worked the phones late Friday and Saturday to rally support for Mr. Biden’s spending plans as the focus shifts to a social-spending bill. A parallel infrastructure bill passed at the start of the weekend.

“She’s going to continue to be actively engaged on that but obviously she has a full schedule here in France,” Ms. Sanders said.

• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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