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Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, center right, and French President Emmanuel Macron walk during their meeting at the Elysee Palace in ParisInternationalIndiaAfricaJames TweedieRelations between London and Paris have been strained over the last decade on issues ranging from people-trafficking across the English Channel, Brexit and competition between defense firms. But the two countries’ leaders have now hailed a new Entente Cordiale.The leaders of France and the UK have put on a show of unity following talks in Paris on contentious issues.British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and members of his cabinet flew to Paris on Thursday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and his ministers.The discussions ranged from the English Channel migrant crisis, arming Ukraine, nuclear energy and military projection into the Asia-Pacific — clouded by the submarine deal with Australia which saw French shipbuilders jilted in favor of British and US firms as part of the new AUKUS alliance.The pair made a great show of friendship as they entered the gilded Elysee Palace for an hour-long one-on-one meeting on Friday morning, with Macron’s hand lingering on Sunak’s shoulder. They also swapped gifts of their national football team shirts.Addressing Sunak as “dear Rishi,” Macron hailed the joint declaration they agreed that morning as a “robust piece of work,” praising their meeting as a “new beginning.”
He referred to a new "entente cordiale" — the early 20th-century Anglo-French alliance that drew the UK into the First World War — while Sunak also spoke of an "entente renewed."
Playing Chicken on Kiev
The leaders also agreed to continue military support for Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia.”We share the same assessment and the same resolve: Russia cannot be allowed to win this war,” Macron said, insisting that arming Ukraine would allow Kiev to dictate the terms of an eventual peace.He also mentioned military cooperation on the “interoperability of future systems” and a joint seaborne cruise missile design.Sunak said they two countries had agreed to train Ukrainian marines to give Kiev a “decisive advantage on the battlefield” and “mount a successful counter-offensive.”The Ukrainian Navy was destroyed in the first few weeks of the Russian military operation launched on February 24, 2022, and is now losing hundreds of men every week in the defense of the near-encircled city of Artemovsk (Bakhmut).France and Britain have striven to outdo each other in pledges of military aid to the Kiev regime — while sending little in practice.Macron’s government claims to be the first to send “Western tanks” in the form of 30 to 40 AMX-10RC wheeled armored cars, a type armed with a 105mm gun but without the armor to go toe-to-toe with Russian main battle tanks. Downing Street has announced vague “hundreds” of light armored vehicles plus 14 of its ageing fleet of Challenger 2 tanks and around 24 self-propelled 155mm howitzers — nearly matching the 30 promised by France.But on Thursday evening Sunak said the conflict would ultimately be ended “at the negotiating table” rather than on the battlefield, edging closer to Macron’s position.WorldCan France & UK Reboot Rocky Post-Brexit Ties Over Pledge to Further Arm Ukraine?10:05 GMT
As for migrants illegally crossing the English Channel, Macron said the two leaders wanted to “make progress in lockstep” while acknowledging the “sensitivity of the issues,” and had agreed to improve their “informational surveillance” methods.Over the next three years, the UK will pay £480 million to tackle small boat Channel crossings, including helping fund a detention centre in France.Sunak promised “more drones” to help “break the business model of the criminal gangs.”Earlier, Sunak defended his promise of a crackdown on people-trafficking across the English Channel, codified in the Illegal Migration Bill launched this week.That will see most immigrants arriving illegally deported to their homeland or ‘third countries’ such as Rwanda, with no right to claim asylum or appeal under human rights laws dating from Britain’s membership of the EU.”I think you’re seeing lots of countries in Europe look at things in this space,” Sunak said, suggesting other nations would follow suit. “Clearly this is a challenge that is facing lots of countries and you’re seeing other countries are responding to it in their own way.””Cooperation with the French is important, illegal migration enforcement at home is important,” the PM added. “Returns agreements are important with countries like Albania, so there are lots of things that we need to do. There is no one silver bullet.”WorldUK Home Secretary Defies UN and BBC’s Gary Lineker on Illegal Immigrant Law8 March, 13:47 GMTSunak defended up to £250 million in payments to France since 2014 under a series of deals which failed to stem the 45,000 undocumented arrivals last year, saying they had led to “a few hundred different arrests” and “disrupted something like 50 organised crime gangs.”
Sunak declared that Russian President Vladimir Putin should never again be allowed to “weaponize fossil fuels” — with both leaders pledging to accelerate the move to renewables even as Europe suffers an unprecedented energy and inflation crisis caused by its sanctions on Moscow and the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines.He and Macron hailed the contract with French national energy firm EDF to build the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in south-west England — one of new plants, the first to be built in the UK in more than 20 years.”Today we are going even further with an ambitious new energy partnership. We’ve signed a new deal on civil nuclear cooperation, agreed that France will examine the case for new energy interconnectors, and committed to work together on low-carbon energy,” Sunak said at a press conference after the France-UK summit.The PM added that the two had agreed on measures to make school trips and exchanges between the two countries easier, despite Britain’s exit from the European Union in 2021.