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First on CNN: Harris and Macron to deepen relationship with NASA headquarters visit

CNN  — 

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron at NASA headquarters on Wednesday as part of Macron’s state visit this week, US and French officials told CNN.

The NASA visit – which will include a working meeting and a briefing by US space officials – will highlight a deepening French-American partnership on space and the budding relationship between Harris and Macron, who developed a visibly chummy chemistry during Harris’s five-day trip to Paris last year.

That trip was a key part of the US effort to revitalize ties with France after a surprise US-Australian submarine partnership upended France’s own submarine deal with Australia, triggering a ferocious French response that brought the relationship to its lowest point in two decades. The trip helped put the relationship back on the right footing and expanded French-American space cooperation, an issue for which Harris has taken a leading role as chair of the National Space Council.

Harris will also co-host a luncheon for Macron at the State Department on Thursday, a traditional part of the protocol for an official state visit. But the addition of the trip to NASA headquarters in Washington signaled a desire on both the US and French side to deepen Macron and Harris’s relationship.

US and French officials said Harris was eager to meet with Macron during his visit this week to continue to develop a relationship with the French leader and highlight progress on space cooperation.

The joint visit to NASA headquarters was originally slated to take place on Friday, but was moved to Wednesday after Macron decided to add a trip to New Orleans on the backend of his state visit. A French official highlighted the vice president’s team’s willingness to adapt Harris’s schedule to be able to join Macron at NASA, saying it signaled a desire to deepen the relationship.

A senior administration official said the visit to NASA headquarters will “showcase our deepening collaboration on space in support of Earth, climate, and space science and space exploration.”

The meeting comes on the heels of the first US-France Comprehensive Dialogue on Space in Paris last month, a whole-of-government dialogue that was agreed to during Harris’s trip last year. Harris and Macron will review the progress on space cooperation between the two countries over the last year and receive a briefing from NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials who have been engaging with their French counterparts.

Over the summer, the US and France both made good on space commitments stemming from Harris’s trip to Paris last year. The US joined the French-led Space Climate Observatory while France signed onto the US-led Artemis Accords, which looks to establish rules of the road for space exploration.