Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said Wednesday that she has been building a close relationship with Boeing's chief rival, Airbus.She said her talks with Airbus were held with the blessing of Boeing, which is one of Washington's top employers.

Airbus recently chose Alabama for its new production site, and Gregoire said the company had been set on building in the southeastern United States.

The Associated Press reported Gregoire said she first had conversations with Airbus a year ago and indicated the state was willing to work with the European manufacturer if it wanted to pursue a new plant in Washington. But Gregoire told KING 5's Robert Mak that it was clear Airbus was looking at the American South and East Coast for a plant location. Discussions since, she said, have focused on using Washington companies to help supply Airbus.

Gregoire said the talks initially were greeted with skepticism from Airbus, considering that Washington has long been loyal to Boeing. The governor said she now sees a lot of opportunity for the hundreds of aerospace suppliers in Washington to work with Airbus.

They have a high regard for our suppliers, Gregoire said. They know that we've got the best in the world.

Gregoire met with Airbus officials again this week at the Farnborough Air Show in London.

Boeing employs tens of thousands of people in Washington state, and Gregoire has championed the company's work around the globe. She congratulated Boeing on the success at the Farnborough Air Show, where the company has racked up billions of dollars worth of orders.

I think this is Boeing's airshow, she said.

Airbus already uses some of Washington's suppliers, which build everything from tires to screws for the aerospace industry. Gregoire and some Washington aerospace executives toured an Airbus facility in Germany last year.

Gregoire's office said she and her staff have participated in nearly two dozen meetings with more than 50 aerospace executives over the last two days.

KING 5's Travis Pittman compiled this report and included information from The Associated Press

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