Political News

The Latest: French foreign minister sees playing vital role

Posted 12:58 p.m. Wednesday
Updated 1:01 p.m. Wednesday

— The Latest on new French President Emmanuel Macron's government (all times local):

6:40 p.m.

France's new foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian (John-Eve Le DREE-on), has vowed to promote the country's "key role" in the international community.

Le Drian, taking over from predecessor Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday, said he sees continuity between his previous position as head of the French defense ministry and his new diplomatic job.

France will be the European Union's only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council once Britain leaves the bloc.

Le Drian says he expects France to play a crucial role in a "complex, fragile, unstable international situation."

Germany's foreign minister quickly welcomed Le Drian, describing him as someone of "enormous political experience and great renown."

Germany's Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement it's important "that we move Europe forward together, that we take the initiative and get the German-French engine running at full speed."

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3:40 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron's first government of 18 Cabinet ministers includes a mix of experienced politicians and newcomers from civil society.

Half of the appointees announced Wednesday are men and half are women.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, whom Macron named on Monday, will lead the government, at least until the parliamentary elections scheduled for June.

Philippe and Macron chose experienced politicians from the left, the center and the right for the main positions.

Socialist Jean-Yves Le Drian (John-Eve Le DREE-on) was named foreign minister and prominent centrist Francois Bayrou (Frans-WA Bey-ROO) as justice minister.

Another centrist, Sylvie Goulard (Goo-LARR), will lead the Defense Ministry, while Socialist Gerard Collomb will head the Interior Ministry. High-profile conservative Bruno Le Maire (Le-mare) was the pick for the Finance Ministry.

Other positions were filled by ministers from civil society. Nicolas Hulot, the well-known host of a television show focusing on nature and the environment, was named minister for environment transition.

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3:15 p.m.

A high-profile conservative politician has been named as France's finance minister in President Emmanuel Macron's first government.

Bruno Le Maire (Le-mare) is a member of The Republicans party. The 48-year-old served as agriculture minister from 2009 to 2012 under former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Alexis Kohler (Ko-LAIR), Macron's general secretary at the presidential Elysee Palace, made the announcement Wednesday.

His appointment in Macron's government is a signal to right-wing voters ahead of June parliamentary elections.

Gerard Collomb (Je-RAR Koll-OMB), a 69-year-old Socialist, was appointed interior minister. He has since 2001 been major of Lyon — France's third biggest city. He was the first major Socialist politician to decide to back Macron's presidential bid.

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3:00 p.m.

France's former defense minister has been named as foreign minister and centrist politician Sylvie Goulard (Goo-LARR) defense minister in French President Emmanuel Macron's first government.

Alexis Kohler, Macron's new general secretary at the presidential Elysee Palace, made the announcement Wednesday.

The 69-year-old Jean-Yves Le Drian (John-Eve Le DREE-on) was France's defense minister during the five-year term of former President Francois Hollande. He was one of the Socialist government's most popular ministers.

He supervised French military operations in Mali, Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria.

The 52-year-old Goulard, the new defense minister, is a pro-European centrist politician. She started her professional career at the French Foreign Affairs Ministry, where she was a member of the team that negotiated the consequences of Germany's reunification in 1989-1990.

She also worked as a political adviser to Italian politician Romano Prodi when he was president of the European Commission from 2001 to 2004.

She has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009.

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This item has been corrected to show that Goulard is 52 years old, not 59.

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9:54 a.m. French President Emmanuel Macron is meeting with the European Union president as both try to keep the bloc from falling apart.

Macron, who will also verify his choices for government ministers, is hosting Donald Tusk in the Elysee Palace in a sign of the new French president's determination to shore up European unity.

Macron wants European militaries to work together more, and for eurozone countries to share a budget and tax rules. He has also promised a tough line on Britain as it negotiates its departure from the EU.

Macron's office will announce the government lineup Wednesday afternoon, after a delay to dig deeper into proposed ministers' tax records and potential conflicts of interest. A series of tax evasion and other scandals hit the previous government.

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