France's Macron meets Syrian opposition after talks with Assad ally Putin

Cheryl Sanders
June 3, 2017

After Macron's emails were hacked on the eve of the election, cybersecurity firms blamed groups tied to Russia, and state-backed Russian news outlets spread rumors about Macron.

Putin also hosted Macron's far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, at the Kremlin in March.

Macron also said he wanted France to "strengthen" its "partnership with Russia" in the fight against ISIS in Syria, adding that the use of chemical weapons would draw an "immediate response" from France, according to the BBC.

"I emphasized to President Putin. how important it is for France to respect all people, all minorities", Macron told reporters during a news conference with Putin on Monday, CNN reported.

This time, the handshake was warmer but the tone guarded after an hour of talks on the 300th anniversary of a visit to Versailles by tsar Peter the Great.

He said that any use of such weapons in Syria would lead to "reprisals" from France - without specifying exactly what form they would take.

The discussions Monday, however, were less about building than rebuilding, as both leaders hope to fix a relationship that has recently grown fraught.

"They want to explain to themselves and prove to others that they had nothing to do with it, their policy was right, they have done everything well, but someone from the outside cheated them", Putin told the French newspaper Le Figaro.

Before Macron and Putin's meeting, two gay couples unfurled a banner with the words "End homophobia in Chechnya" and kissed in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Emmanuel Macron made the announcement during a joint press conference with the Russian president in Versailles yesterday (29 May). Putin would certainly invite Macron to pay a visit to Moscow, he said.

Putin, who was standing beside Macron, said the matter was not discussed during their talks, but still denied the allegations.

"Maybe they were Russian hackers, maybe they were not", he said.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation further reports that Putin defensively said (of the French election), "Do you think that we are ignorant of the results of the elections?"

After describing dialogue with Russia as essential to solving a number of problems, Macron also said that he had been frank about the need for Putin to stop the brutal treatment of members of the LGBT community in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Macron accused Russian hackers of targeting his campaign in the days leading up to the election.

Putin's visit comes after the 39-year-old French centrist 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 at a G7 summit in Italy.

After Moscow lost its bets in the French vote, the visit offers the Russian leader a chance to turn the page and try to establish ties with Macron as the Kremlin has struggled to mend a bitter rift in relations with the West.

Welcome, Mr. Putin, to the world you've created.

Other reports by iNewsToday