In France, Kamala Harris Asserts Herself as a Diplomatic Asset

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The vice president met with President Emmanuel Macron of France, skirting caller U.S.-French tensions, and immersed herself successful issues similar Libya and cybersecurity.

President Emmanuel Macron of France and Vice President Kamala Harris successful  Paris connected  Friday.
Credit...Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Katie RogersZolan Kanno-Youngs

Nov. 12, 2021, 5:20 p.m. ET

PARIS — Vice President Kamala Harris spent hours talking with Emmanuel Macron, the French president, managing to skirt a caller diplomatic rift betwixt the 2 allies implicit an Australian submarine deal. She attended a league connected promoting antiauthoritarian elections successful Libya. And she secured a committedness for the United States to articulation a nonbinding planetary declaration to support civilians against cyberattacks.

During a tightly-choreographed travel to France this week, Ms. Harris appeared determined to asseverate herself arsenic a diplomatic plus for a president who believes he knows much astir the process — and the vice presidency — than most.

The trip, coming amid declining support ratings for President Biden and Ms. Harris wrong the United States, besides provided a accidental to cement the planetary illustration of the vice president, who has demonstrated aspirations for higher office.

“I deliberation determination is nary question that I’m present arsenic a typical for my country,” Ms. Harris said. “And my beingness present is reflective of the priorities that the United States has arsenic it relates to France.”

But 10 months into her vice presidency, Ms. Harris’s way grounds connected delivering connected the administration’s planetary priorities has been mixed.

Earlier trips, to Southeast Asia and Central America, served arsenic important tests connected collaborating with allies and confronting adversaries connected the planetary stage. Experts said they were inactive trying to process whether Ms. Harris’s five-day travel to France, which ends Saturday, had helped her found American priorities overseas.

“I deliberation she’s been truly hidden this full clip and retired of the show of astir Europeans,” said Célia Belin, a visiting chap successful the Center connected the United States and Europe astatine the Brookings Institution. “I deliberation she’s been rather nether the radar.”

The main diplomatic accomplishment Ms. Harris brings location from the travel was the announcement connected Wednesday that the United States had joined a French-led planetary inaugural to support civilians against cyberattacks and support elections from integer threats. That whitethorn person helped soothe France’s choler implicit a lucrative submarine woody it had with Australia that Canberra abruptly canceled successful favour of a caller 1 with the United States and Britain.

Ms. Harris’s gathering with Mr. Macron came astatine a peculiarly challenging time, Ms. Belin said, arsenic France — similar the United States — confronts a emergence successful far-right and nationalist rhetoric.

Mr. Macron faces a pugnacious re-election run adjacent twelvemonth and a apt situation from a far-right firebrand, and successful effect has moved to the close connected issues similar migration and crime.

“The irony of this travel and this meeting,” Ms. Belin said, was that France was “undergoing a peculiarly nonprogressive infinitesimal that extends retired arsenic precise overmuch an absorption to what she represents.”

But Ms. Harris — who often has luncheon with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to sermon overseas argumentation issues — came with nary of the blunt messaging she has delivered connected different trips abroad. During her archetypal overseas travel arsenic vice president, to Guatemala, she came with pugnacious messages connected 2 challenging issues adjacent arsenic she met the country’s leaders: surging migration and the corruption that plagues the Latin American country.


Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In nationalist comments, Ms. Harris said the United States would not invited asylum-seeking migrants from Guatemala who entered the state illegally. She besides voiced enactment for an anti-corruption portion whose integrity had been criticized by Guatemala’s president, Alejandro Giammattei. “We volition look to basal retired corruption wherever it exists,” she said.

“She struck the close equilibrium betwixt trying to found productive relationships and being extraordinarily frank,” said Stephen McFarland, a erstwhile ambassador to Guatemala during the Obama administration. Still, helium added, that connection had done small to sway the Guatemalan government.

Just a period aft Ms. Harris’s visit, an anti-corruption prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, who had been investigating Mr. Giammattei, was abruptly fired and fled the country.

Ms. Harris’s adjacent trip, to Singapore and Vietnam, was touted arsenic an effort to bolster economical and nationalist wellness partnerships.

But it came during the Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, forcing her elder aides to look questions astir the humanities parallel betwixt that exodus and the U.S. evacuation of American citizens successful 1975 from Saigon during the Vietnam War.


Credit...Kevin Lim/The Straits Times, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

William Choong, a elder chap astatine the Yusof Ishak Institute, a probe enactment successful Singapore, said Ms. Harris was a “good trooper” for the Biden administration, “delivering a precise commendable show and delivering an emphatic enactment astir American committedness to the southeast portion arsenic good arsenic the wider Indo-Pacific.”

During her trip, Ms. Harris besides took a pugnacious enactment with China, accusing Beijing of intimidation successful the South China Sea and pledging to situation its “bullying and excessive maritime claims.” China condemned Ms. Harris’s comments, and stepped up its disapproval of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.


Credit...Pool photograph by Evelyn Hockstein

While Ms. Harris’s clip successful France kept her mostly escaped of contention and allowed her to found a greater presence, nevertheless controlled, connected the satellite signifier than connected past trips, she is facing important headwinds astatine home.

The Biden medication is facing rising inflation, a home docket whose occurrence is inactive successful question, a planetary pandemic that has not receded, and a damaging Democratic nonaccomplishment successful the Virginia governor’s contention that has immoderate successful the enactment questioning whether the White House is taking the close cues from American voters.

There is besides the contented of lagging support ratings for some President Biden and Ms. Harris: a caller USA Today-Suffolk University poll recovered that 28 percent of voters approved of the occupation the vice president is doing.

Symone Sanders, Ms. Harris’s property caput and elder adviser, told reporters en way to Paris that dismal caller polling reflected “a snapshot successful time,” and that Ms. Harris was focused connected different matters, including a societal spending deal.

Allies of the medication treaded gingerly erstwhile asked however Ms. Harris’s show overseas could alteration her ain governmental fortunes.

Former Senator Chris J. Dodd of Connecticut, a subordinate of the Biden campaign’s vice-presidential hunt committee and a confidant of the president, praised the occupation she had done successful Paris, and said the vice president’s governmental aboriginal could see being a portion of a longer database of Democratic candidates should the Biden presidency beryllium constricted to 1 term.

“I’m hoping the president runs for re-election,” Mr. Dodd said, “but for immoderate crushed that mightiness not beryllium the case, it’s hard to judge determination would beryllium a abbreviated database without Kamala’s sanction connected it. She’s the vice president of the United States.”


Credit...Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times
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