THE French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are meeting today in Paris, aiming to “renew” the “fundamental” alliance between their countries, after years of disagreements.
Fifteen days before Britain’s King Charles III visits France in his first visit abroad, Macron will meet with Chougnac to strengthen the fight against irregular immigration, a sensitive issue for London, their defense cooperation and the provision of military assistance to Ukraine.
“Our long history, our proximity and our shared vision on global challenges mean that a close relationship between Britain and France is not just important, it is fundamental.”the British Prime Minister said in a statement.
“As we face new and unprecedented threats, it is critical that we strengthen the foundations of our alliance in order to be ready to face future challenges.”he added.
Relations between Macron and former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were never particularly good, and further deteriorated during Liz Truss’s brief premiership.
From Brexit and the pandemic to a heated standoff over alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, various crises have disrupted the tradition of annual summits between the two countries, with the most recent being in 2018.
“Tackling the Gangs”
On the British side, there is an emphasis on tackling irregular immigration, a source of tension between the two countries.
Paris and London have negotiated “strengthening” their cooperation and means of controlling migration flows from France, with the Sandhurst agreement, signed in 2018, and with a new agreement, concluded by the two countries in November.
In Sunak’s environment it is considered “critical” to work “with the French to prevent the crossing and loss of life in the English Channel”, at a time when more than 45,000 migrants will cross into Britain illegally in 2022. This is a record number, despite the measures to suppress the phenomenon.
Downing Street hopes to “continue to step up patrols” to “tackle gangs” of smugglers and “stop more boats crossing”.
The invasion of Ukraine is also a common challenge for the two countries, the only ones in Europe with nuclear weapons.
According to London, the two leaders will announce “enhanced cooperation on the supply of weapons to Ukraine and on the training” of Ukrainian soldiers so that “thousands more” soldiers are combat-ready.
The two leaders are also expected to agree on a “strategic partnership” on nuclear power and investment, as well as a move away from coal to tackle climate change.
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