Blinken defends US leadership at UN as Biden administration wrestles with foreign policy crises

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended US leadership at the United Nations on Thursday even as he acknowledged that it will take time to repair relations with France, one of America's oldest allies, after missteps by the Biden administration.
(CNN) Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended US leadership at the United Nations on Thursday even as he acknowledged that it will take time to repair relations with France , one of America's oldest allies, after missteps by the Biden administration.

The top US diplomat, speaking to reporters at the UN General Assembly, said that he had met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as the administration tries to mend ties ruptured over the US announcement of the "AUKUS" alliance with the UK and Australia and agreement to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia -- submarines that France had expected to sell to Canberra.

"We recognize this will take time and hard work, and will be demonstrated not only in words, but in deeds, and I'm committed to working closely with Minister Le Drian on this crucial effort," Blinken said about repairing the rift that led France to recall its ambassador from Washington.

Tarnished by crises

The US acted as host to the 76th session of the global diplomatic gathering -- reduced in size and ambition due to the Covid-19 pandemic -- at a time when the Biden administration's standing on the world stage has been tarnished by the foreign policy crises of Afghanistan , the diplomatic spat with France and condemnation of its treatment of Haitian refugees . Another major foreign policy goal -- reviving the Iran nuclear deal -- has stalled as Tehran's new President has declined to engage in the talks in Vienna.

Blinken pointed to two major challenges the world faces -- the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change -- and called on the world to do more. "When it comes to both the pandemic and climate, the international response isn't as aggressive as it needs to be," he said. "And that's what we were trying to continue to work hard, to emphasize here this week and in the days and weeks ahead."

But the bulk of questions Blinken fielded were about the diplomatic missteps and foreign policy challenges the Biden administration is…
Nicole Gaouette, Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler, CNN
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