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Sunak and Macron hail ‘new chapter’ in UK-France relations

PoliticsWorld PoliticsSunak and Macron hail 'new chapter' in UK-France relations

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PARIS – Vegan sushi and rugby brought the leaders of Britain and France together after years of Brexit wrangling.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday held the first bilateral summit between the two countries in five years amid warm words and wishes for post-Brexit cooperation.

“It is an extraordinary summit, a moment of reunion and reunification, which shows that we want to talk to each other better,” Macron later told a joint press conference. “We have a desire to work together in a Europe that has new responsibilities.”

Most notably from London’s perspective, the pair agreed a new multi-year financial framework to jointly deal with the arrival of undocumented migrants on small boats through the English Channel – partly based on one in France. To finance the new detention center.

“The UK and France share a special bond and a special responsibility,” Sunak said. “When the security of our continent is threatened, we will always be at the forefront of its defense.”

Macron congratulated Sunak for agreeing the Windsor Framework with the European Commission, ending a long UK-EU row over post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland, and calling it “more closely aligned with the EU”. Fresh start to work from”.

“I feel so fortunate to serve with you and incredibly excited about the future we can create together. Mercy Mon Ami,Sunak said.

It has been many years since the leaders of Britain and France were so at ease with each other in public.

Sunak and Macron bonded over rugby ahead of Saturday’s match between England and France, and exchanged T-shirts signed by their respective teams.

Afterwards, they met alone at the Elysee Palace for more than an hour, joined only by their chief of staff at the end of the meeting, which Sunak’s official spokesman described as “warm and productive”. The spokeswoman said the English-speaking pair had planned to shorten the one-on-one session, but decided to extend it.

They later met with their respective ministers for a lunch consisting of vegetarian sushi, turbot, artichokes and a praline tart.

Macron congratulated Sunak for agreeing the Windsor Framework with the European Commission Christophe Archambault / AFP via Getty Images

speaking on eurostar On th eway In Paris, Sunak told reporters that it was the start of a “new chapter” in Franco-British relations.

“It has been great getting to know Emmanuel these past two months. There is a shared desire to strengthen the relationship,” he said. “I truly believe that the work we can do together is tremendously important.”

In a show of goodwill from the French, who pushed hard for a harder line during Brexit talks, Macron said he wanted to “fix the consequences of Brexit” and opened the door for closer cooperation with Brits in the future .

“It is my wish and it is in our interest to have the closest possible alliance,” he said. It will depend on our commitment and willingness but I am sure we will do it.

small boat handling

Under the terms of the new migration deal, the UK will pay France €141 million in 2023-24, €191 million in 2024-25 and €209 million in 2025-26.

The money will come in installments and will finance a new detention center in France, a new Franco-British command centre, an extra 500 law enforcement officers on French beaches and better technology to patrol them, including more drones and surveillance aircraft Will go towards

According to a Macron aide, the new detention centre, located in the Dunkirk region, will be funded by the British and run by the French and help make up for a lack of space at other detention centers in northern France.

France is expected to contribute five times the amount Britain is contributing to the scheme, according to UK and French officials, although Elysee declined to give exact figures.

Efforts to deal with small boats will include a new, permanent French mobile police unit. This work will be overseen by a new regional coordination centre, where UK liaison officers will work permanently with French counterparts.

Sunak insisted that UK-French co-operation on smaller boats since November had made a significant difference, and defended the decision to hand over more British money to France to help patrol the French northern coasts. He stressed that irregular migration is a “united problem”.

ukraine unity

Sunak and Macron also made a show of unity over the war in Ukraine, agreeing that their priority would be to continue supporting the country in its war against Russian aggression.

The French president said that “the ambition is to resist and help counter-offensive short-term Ukraine.”

“The priority is the military,” he said. “We want a lasting peace, when Ukraine wants it and under the conditions it wants and our desire is to put it in a position to do so.”

The West’s top priority should be helping the Ukrainians gain “a decisive battlefield advantage”, which subsequently allows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to sit at the negotiating table with Russian President Vladimir Putin from a position of strength, Sunak said at the summit. said on the way to the conference.

“That should be everyone’s focus,” he said. “Of course, it will end as all conflicts do at the negotiating table. But that’s up to Ukraine to decide. And what we need to do is put them in the best possible place for those talks at the appropriate time.” is what makes sense to them.

The two leaders also announced that they would launch joint training operations for Ukrainian marines.

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