Macron Invites Putin to France, Challenges Him on Syria and 'Fake News'

"The French president proposed to put in place a working group that the experts can go to Moscow as they can to Paris", he added. Nevertheless, relations have been beset by mistrust, with Paris and Moscow backing opposing sides in the Syrian civil war and at odds over the Ukraine conflict. "You have asked how sanctions against Russian Federation will help in the resolution of the crisis in Ukraine's southeast".

The meeting was aimed at defining the two leaders' personal relationship after tension and mistrust during the French presidential election campaign and suggestions Russian Federation had sought to meddle in the French democratic process.

Putin said that the two nations want to cooperate in resolving the crises, including in Ukraine. "Putin understands quite well that just one productive meeting could lead to a radical revamping of ties".

The claims of Russian interference were driven by the "desire of those who lost the US elections to improve their standing", Putin said in the interview recorded during his Monday visit to France. Putin said the two leaders assess many issues similarly and their relations could be "qualitatively" improved.

It is President Macron's latest diplomatic test after the G7 talks in Sicily and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels where he turned the tables on US President Donald Trump by holding him in a clenched handshakeuntil their knuckles went white.

More news: Leaders of G7 nations begin summit in Italy

At the G7 summit in Sicily at the weekend Mr Macron said: "It is essential to talk to Russian Federation because there are a number of global issues that will not be resolved without a tough dialogue with them".

The Russian leader says they also discussed the situation in Syria.

At the same time, the French leader also said that the use of chemical weapons is a "red line" that should not be crossed, adding that the use of such weapons in Syria would trigger a "reprisal" from France. "I will not give an inch on this". Under Putin, a former KGB officer with a strongman image, Russian Federation had supported far-right leader Marine Le Pen in France's presidential election this year.

Regarding the conflict in Syria, the French President also had strong words for Russian Federation and its allies, including Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Macron's aides also claimed that Russian groups launched hacking attacks on his presidential campaign.

Towards the end of the meeting Macron said that reopening the French embassy in Syria is not a priority at the moment.

More news: Gas prices are relatively low as the Memorial Day weekend begins

Macron was the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the Group of Seven summit over the weekend, where relations with Russian Federation were a key topic.

Syria agreed in September 2013 to destroy its chemical weapons programme under a deal negotiated with the United States and Russian Federation after hundreds of people were killed in a sarin gas attack in the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.

Government forces have been battling Moscow-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine for over three years.

Later Monday, Putin is to visit the center near the Seine River that includes the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

More news: Former CIA head to answer questions about Russian meddling


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