British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday met French President Emmanuel Macron in efforts to mend relations following post-Brexit tensions, as well as improving military and business ties.
It is the first French-British summit since 2018 described as a “new chapter” is thawing relations between the two countries, Macron’s office said. Usually, such meetings were held yearly.
Relations between the U.K. and France dived over post-Brexit disagreements over fishing rights, and hit their lowest point under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who took delight in jibing the French. His successor, ex-PM Liz Truss further worsened relations when she said last year that the “jury is out” on whether Macron was a friend or a foe.
But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought Britain and its European neighbors closer together in support of Kyiv. The tone improved after pragmatic, technocratic Sunak took office in October after Truss’ brief and economically damaging term in office.
Sunak’s visit comes two weeks ahead of a visit by King Chales III who then travels to Germany for his first state visits since becoming monarch, in efforts to build stronger ties with Europe’s two powerhouses.
”The summit will be above all an opportunity to reaffirm and deepen the close cooperation in terms of military support for Ukraine,” according to the statement from Macron’s Elysee Palace, as both countries are the only nuclear powers in the region.
Seven senior ministers from each country are participating in the summit.