Emmanuel Macron has offered Liz Truss an olive branch after her controversial “friend or foe” comments by saying after their first bilateral talks it is time to “move on”.
The two leaders appeared to ease tensions during their meeting in New York, which No. 10 said was dominated by Ukraine and energy security, but avoided the controversial issues of the Northern Ireland protocol and migration.
After the talks, the French president told reporters: “I now believe in evidence, in results. There is a will to rejoin, move on and show that we are allies and friends in a complex world.”
Speaking at the Conservative leadership contest, Truss said the “juries are out” on whether Macron was a “friend or foe” after her predecessor Boris Johnson clashed with him over Brexit and small boats crossing the Channel.
In what appeared to be a softening of her stance, Truss told reporters on the plane to New York that she wants to have a “constructive” relationship with France, working with Macron on migration, Brexit, energy security and Ukraine.
Government sources suggested the prime minister’s more conciliatory tone reflected her desire to be diplomatic on the day of the Queen’s funeral, although No. 10 said after the talks the two leaders wanted to “strengthen” their relationship.
After the death of the Queen, the French president tweeted about the “unbreakable” ties between France and the UK.
No 10 and French sources confirmed that the potential focal point of the post-Brexit trade relationship had not been discussed. However, the French claimed that migration had been raised by Truss, but only in passing.
French sources revealed that the two leaders spoke briefly about Macron’s project for the European political community to tackle the political and security-related challenges facing the continent.
The government is wary of the suggestion that the UK could join the new body and the prime minister’s official spokesman said Truss would like to know more details before giving her opinion, fearing it could rival the G7 as the best forum for collaboration.
After the meeting, a Downing Street spokesman said: “Leaders welcomed the impressive progress Ukraine’s armed forces have made in recent days. They agreed that it is important that Ukraine’s friends and allies stay on track and support the country militarily, economically and politically.
“As our people face a difficult winter with huge uncertainty over energy supplies and the cost of living, Prime Minister and President Macron underlined the importance of working together to end dependence on Russian energy and strengthen energy security. We must keep demonstrating to [Vladimir] Putin that his economic blackmail over energy and food supplies will not succeed.
“The Prime Minister and President looked forward to strengthening our partnership with France and other like-minded European countries, including through the G7 and NATO.”