Top diplomats from U.S., France expected to meet on Thursday -U.S. official

NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to have a bilateral meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

France last week recalled its ambassador from the United States after Australia ditched a $40-billion defense contract with Paris for the purchase of submarines and opted for U.S. submarines instead.

The official, briefing reporters on Wednesday evening, after U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone and released a joint statement, said the United States “very much welcomes France’s deep engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.” (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)