Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden are meeting for the first state visit under the Biden administration, which is reserved for France.
One year before, on October 29, 2021, the presidents met in Rome to repair the bilateral relations after the secretly negotiated AUKUS security partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom. The two presidents issued a joint statement in which the United States welcomed “France’s enduring role as an Indo-Pacific partner” and as “a key contributor and security provider to a free and open Indo-Pacific.” They called for “robust collaboration in the Indo-Pacific, particularly given growing economic and strategic challenges there.”
Yet post-AUKUS momentum on the Indo-Pacific with the United States’ oldest ally has been limited. Indeed, each ally gets short shrift in the Indo-Pacific segments of the other’s recently released strategic documents. There is not a single mention of France or the European Union as Indo-Pacific partners in the U.S. National Security Strategy or National Defense Strategy. Meanwhile, France puts the other three Indo-Pacific Quad countries on top of its list of partners but does not mention the United States in its Strategic Defense Review.
This is a missed opportunity. The United States and France have much in common in the region. The Pacific Islands region is probably the most interesting case study in this regard.