The one-on-one meeting lasted around 40 minutes with 'common agreement that we have an opportunity now to deepen and strengthen the coordination'
President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday held talks with visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his first meeting with an American official since the scrapping of a submarine contract with Australia plunged relations into crisis.
Blinken, who has been seeking to patch up ties with France after Canberra ditched the deal as part of a security pact with the UK and US, did not originally have an appointment with Macron on the agenda for his two-day visit to Paris.
The one-on-one meeting lasted around 40 minutes with "common agreement that we have an opportunity now to deepen and strengthen the coordination" even though "a lot of hard work remains to be done," a senior State Department official told reporters in Paris.
The Elysee also confirmed the meeting with Macron, saying Blinken's visit would contribute to "restoring confidence" between the sides.
Macron was furious last month when Australia scrapped a multibillion-dollar deal for French submarines, saying it would pursue US nuclear versions instead.
His government called secret talks leading up to the cancellation "a stab in the back" and the French president recalled his ambassadors from Washington and Canberra.
US President Joe Biden has since tried to make amends, with Karen Donfried, the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, admitting last week that "the September 15 announcement would have benefited from better and more open consultation among allies."
Blinken earlier Tuesday met French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian for an hour in what Le Drian's spokeswoman had flagged as a chance to "identify stages that may allow a return of confidence between our two countries."
He then drove to the Elysee Palace for a scheduled meeting with Macron's security advisor Emmanuel Bonne, but "then had a one-on-one with President Macron for probably about 30 or 40 minutes," the State Department official said.
The mood of the encounter was "serious", the official said. "I don't want to characterise their emotions, but I would say, at least in the discussions we had, it was very cordial and amicable."
A French diplomatic source, who asked not to be named, said that the talks had shown that the American side was aware of the gravity of the situation.
"This was not hours of cuddling to make things better and the Americans also don't think that cuddling is the right thing now or saying that 'we are the best allies in the world'," said the source.