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Youngkin will travel to France to pay respects, visit air show

A person in a blue suit walks among a crowd in an urban setting
Shaban Athuman
VPM News
Gov. Glenn Youngkin gets ready to speak to the media during the opening of Petersburg’s Community Resource Center on Tuesday, April 11.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin will travel to France later this month to visit the gravesites of Virginia service members killed during World War II's D-Day invasion and attend an international air show, his office announced Monday.

The governor will be paying his respects at Point Du Hoc, Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery before attending 2023 International Paris Air Show, where he is scheduled to meet with aerospace principals, defense companies and other industry leaders, according to a news release.

“With four of the top five major U.S. aerospace and defense leaders based in Virginia, I look forward to engaging with aerospace leaders at the Paris Air Show and reiterating our commitment to be partners in building a safer, more connected world. Virginia has the capabilities and talented workforce for all aerospace companies to expand and grow,” Youngkin said in a statement.

The visit — which will run from Saturday to Tuesday, June 20 — will mark Youngkin's second announced official trip overseas since he took office in Jan. 2022. In April, he led a trade mission to Asia that included a politically sensitive meeting with the president of Taiwan.

Recent Virginia governors, both Democrat and Republican, have visited the Paris air show, citing the state's deep ties to the aerospace and defense sectors. Virginia is home to companies including Boeing, Raytheon Technologies, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman, and Youngkin's office said that over the past decade 68 aerospace and unmanned aircraft projects have been announced in Virginia, representing over 4,200 jobs and over $850 million in investment.

But Youngkin's Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick has previously questioned the “investment” of sending a high-level representative to the Paris air show after personally attending a similar event near London, according to previous reporting from The Washington Post that cited emails obtained through an open records request.

Macaulay Porter, a Youngkin spokeswoman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Merrick's previous remarks.

Youngkin, a former private equity executive, has been touting legislative accomplishments and endorsing candidates in the next week's primary election since his return from the Asia trade mission. He continues to face speculation that he might join the Republican Party’s crowded 2024 presidential field.

Youngkin has said he is focused on Virginia, where every legislative seat will be on the ballot in November, and that he has no plans to run “this year.”

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