Terrorism, Ukraine and Syria conflicts at heart of Macron, Putin meeting

Mr Macron greeted Mr Putin with a firm handshake on a red carpet leading into the Palace of Versailles before both men walked inside.

Monday's visit offered Putin and Macron a chance to reset a relationship that got off on a less-than-ideal foot during Macron's presidential campaign.

The relations between France and Russian Federation have been strained in past over Syria and Ukraine. Putin also received Macron's main opponent, far right leader Marine Le Pen, at the Kremlin.

The two leaders met near Paris after last month's presidential election campaign in which Mr Macron's team accused Russian media of trying to interfere.

Putin said he outlined Russia's position on Syria to Macron and said that terrorism can not be defeated by dismantling a country's statehood.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a G7 closing news conference in the Sicilian town of Taormina, Italy, Saturday, May 27, 2017. "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.

Putin, however, made his preferences in the French presidential election clear by hosting Le Pen at the Kremlin in March - part of Russia's efforts to reach out to nationalist and anti-globalist forces in a hope of boosting their influence in the West.

Asked by a journalist from RT, a Russian state media, why RT journalists were barred to access events at the end of his campaign, Macron explained that the media, as well as Sputnik, another Russian state outlet, had "spread slanderous falsehoods" about him.

Human rights activists are gathered in Paris to draw attention to the situation of gays in Chechnya before Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to France.

Relations between Paris and Moscow became increasingly strained under former president Francois Hollande.

Mr Putin and Mr Macron will hold a joint news conference after their talks.

Putin, 64, cancelled his last planned visit in October after Hollande said he would see him only for talks on Syria.

Later Monday, Putin is to visit the center near the Seine River that includes the Holy Trinity Cathedral. The site was sold to Russian Federation under former President Nicolas Sarkozy amid criticism from human rights groups.

Versailles was chosen for the Macron-Putin meeting because an exhibition dedicated to Tsar Peter the Great is opening there.

"No important problem in the world can be solved without Russia's participation".

Mr Putin described Ms Le Pen as a politician who wanted to develop friendly ties with Russian Federation.

He also said that France is interested in intensifying cooperation with Russian Federation, particularly in resolving the Syrian crisis. The U.S. and the European Union have made the prospect of lifting economic and financial sanctions against Moscow contingent on fulfilling the peace agreement.

Macron said he had also brought up the plight of gay men in Russia's Chechnya following Russian media reports of torture and Putin had agreed to "look into the activities of local authorities". Ukraine and Russian Federation have blamed one another for the fighting that has left some 10,000 people dead.

In addition to the Ukraine standoff and Moscow's alleged interference in the French presidential election, which the Kremlin denies, Russia's support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war is among the hard issues Macron and Putin face.

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