Paul Hudson, CEO of Sanofi, delivers a speech at the French drugmaker’s vaccine unit Sanofi Pasteur plant near Lyon

MARCY-L-E’TOILE, France (Reuters) – Sanofi’s Chief Executive Paul Hudson on Tuesday sought to set aside tensions with the French government and said the drugmaker was committed to helping France build up its healthcare independence.

“Sanofi’s heart beats in France,” Hudson said in a speech after hosting a visit of French president Emmanuel Macron at a group’s vaccines facility near Lyon, central France.

Sanofi announced on the sidelines of the visit it would invest 610 millions euros ($679.4 million) at two French sites to bolster vaccines research, development and production.

Hudson had earlier this year irked the French government by hinting U.S. patients might get any vaccine it develops to prevent from COVID-19 first, given Washington had provided funding.

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(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Gonzalo Fuentes; Writing by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Louise Heavens)