‘Un peu riche’: Liz Truss’s call for cooperation likely to be met with scepticism from the French

Rookie Foreign Secretary Liz Truss gets the chance to cut her diplomatic teeth in what could be a feisty meeting of counterparts on the UN Security Council.

She will chair talks with foreign ministers from the US, France, China, and Russia – the countries that, along with the UK, make up the five permanent members of the United Nations security council – in New York later.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is also expected to join the discussions.

Ms Truss’s aides say she will be promoting greater cooperation among the so-called P5.

This will include encouraging Beijing and Moscow to “act as one” with other international military forces to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a home for global terrorists following the Taliban’s takeover last month.

But “un peu riche” (a little rich) may be the French retort as the diplomatic rift deepens over a new security pact between Australia, the UK and the US that leaves France out in the cold and China smarting.

The AUKUS defence pact resulted in Australia backing out of a contract to buy diesel submarines from France and European allies appear to have entered the fray on the French side.

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The pact, seen as a counter to growing Chinese power in the region, has left noses out of joint in China too.

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Liz Truss’s first statement as foreign secretary: ‘Global Britain will deliver for people right across the UK’

The subject may cloud progress on other issues such as maintaining international peace and security against a backdrop of conflicts and crises, including in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Yemen and Tigray.

Ahead of Ms Truss’s foray in New York she said: “I want our foreign policy to be practically focused and geared towards strengthening our network of economic and diplomatic partnerships, underpinned by strong security ties.

“My visit to the UN is the start of an autumn where Global Britain leads the way on the world stage.”

Not without sniping from friends and rivals though.

France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune poured cold water on the ambition, in the light of news that a US-UK trade deal could be years away.

“Our British friends explained to us that they were leaving the EU to create Global Britain. As you can see, it is a return to the American fold and accepting a form of vassal status.”

And Dominic Raab, who was replaced by Ms Truss as Britain’s chief diplomat, was harsher, calling Global Britain a “crap slogan that five years later still means nothing”.

In her diplomatic debut Liz Truss must prove them wrong and show her government’s post-Brexit mission statement adds up to something more than just a strapline that excites at the UK’s right-of-centre tabloids.

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