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Macron meets Putin, warns over Syrian chemical weapons

Though he welcomed President Vladimir Putin to Versailles with a relatively brief and friendly handshake on Monday, Macron challenged the Russian president multiple times during their meeting, on everything from the Syrian civil war to Russian outlets spreading "lying propaganda" during the French presidential campaign.

"I will be demanding in my exchanges with Russia", Macron said after the G7 summit on Saturday.

Macron's electoral victory has offered an opportunity for Paris to examine its policy on Syria as the previous administration's stance was considered too intransigent. But following talks ill feeling feeling at the press conference came to the surface over issues such as Ukraine.

When they emerged from talks, which went on for nearly an hour longer than scheduled, Macron said they had had a "frank exchange" and both men stressed they had agreed on the need to move forward on divisive issues such as Syria and Ukraine.

Macron, a newcomer to global diplomacy, said on Monday that his priority in Syria was to eradicate Islamist militants.

Leicester reported from Paris. The site was sold to Russian Federation under former president Nicolas Sarkozy amid criticism from human rights groups.

As Macron put it, this will be considered a "red line" for France: "The use of chemical weapons by anyone will be the object of reprisals and immediate retaliation on the part of France".

Moscow and RT itself rejected allegations of meddling in the election.

"Once Le Pen asked us for a meeting, we could not refuse her since she had been always a supporter for the development of relations with our country", Putin said.




"Maybe they were Russian hackers, maybe they were not", he said, dismissing the claims as unsubstantiated.

"They behaved like organs of influence, propaganda, and deceitful propaganda".

France's youngest ever president made a successful debut on the world stage last week, holding his own against Trump at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels and winning plaudits from his peers at a G7 summit in Italy.

Putin later went to an exhibition on Peter the Great, who visited France in 1717.

The meeting comes in the wake of the Group of Seven's summit over the weekend where relations with Russian Federation were part of the agenda, making Macron the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the talks.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine in 2014, Russian Federation has flexed its muscles with a series of war games involving tens of thousands of troops in areas bordering NATO Baltic states.

Putin's visit is the latest test of Macron's diplomatic mettle after the G-7 talks in Sicily last week and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels where he turned the tables on Trump by refusing to release the American leader's hand for several seconds during the handshake for the cameras.

Western powers charge Russian Federation with failing to honour its commitments under the Minsk accords framework for ending the violence in Ukraine. France was one the main proponents of sanctions that have significantly damaged trade between the European Union and Russian Federation.

Macron said that is why he banned reporters from those two media outlets from his campaign headquarters during the presidential race. He said he wanted to work with Putin to that end.

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