French President Emmanuel Macron, right, shakes hands with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a joint press conference as part of the Franco-British Summit at Elysee Palace in Paris, March 10, 2023. (PHOTO /POOL VIA AP)
PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attempted on Friday in Paris to mend bilateral relations strained by disputes in recent years over a fishing deal, illegal migration through the Channel, and Australian submarine contract stab.
Speaking at a joint press conference after the 36th Franco-British Summit, Macron called the summit a "summit of new ambition" and expressed his hope that the summit will mark a "new start" for the two countries.
France and Britain agreed to reinforce their bilateral cooperation in the fields of defense and security, energy and decarbonization, and illegal migration
For his part, Sunak said that their relationship "has had its challenges in recent years", and that he believes "today's meeting does mark a new beginning".
Reaffirming the friendship and partnership that the two countries have maintained "for many years," France and Britain, in a joint statement issued Friday, agreed to reinforce their bilateral cooperation in such fields as defense and security, energy and decarbonization, and illegal migration.
They also reaffirmed the "fundamental importance" of armaments cooperation within NATO and Europe.
"The two countries will continue to seek other areas of cooperation to enhance the interoperability of their defense capabilities, including directed-energy weapons, as well as the possibilities offered by a future joint program for precision deep strike capabilities," reads the statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron, center right, uses an umbrella to protect Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after a French-British summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris, March 10, 2023. (PHOTO /POOL VIA AP)
France and Britain also reached a controversial new deal to combat illegal migration across the Channel, under which London will pay Paris millions of euros from 2023 to 2026, and a detention center will be built in northern France.
France-Britain relations dropped to a low point in recent years after Brexit. The two countries had rows in French fishermen's fishing licenses, illegal migration through the Channel, and Australia's decision to break off the submarine contract with France for British nuclear-powered alternatives.