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Macron tells Putin Syrian chemical weapons are a 'red line'

13 June 2017

He said the claims of Russian meddling are driven by the "desire of those who lost the U.S. elections to improve their standing by accusing Russia of interfering".

PASCAL BONIFACE: (Through interpreter) Given the rancorous relations between France and Russian Federation today, it would have been hard for Macron to invite Putin as his first foreign guest.

Speaking at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Macron accused the two outlets, Russia Today and Sputnik, of spreading fake news.

Macron said he spoke to Putin about LGBT rights in Chechnya and about the rights of embattled NGOs in Russian Federation, vowing he would be "constantly vigilant" on these issues.

"When press outlets spread defamatory untruths they are no longer journalists, they are organs of influence".

She added, "By labeling any news reporting he disagrees with as fake news, President Macron sets a risky precedent that threatens both freedom of speech and journalism at large".

A tense atmosphere was, of course, to be expected after NSA Chief Mike Rogers confirmed that Russian Federation was behind what Macron claimed was a massive email hack of his campaign.

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Macron, for his part, expressed anger at reports by pro-Kremlin media during the election questioning his sexuality and links to high finance.

Putin hosted Le Pen at the Kremlin in March, wrongly betting that the nationalist would win France's May 7 presidential election.

Putin didn't react to Macron's comments about the Russian media, but he bristled when a journalist suggested Moscow's hand was behind cyberattacks on the Macron campaign.

As the French election neared, Putin expressly backed Macron's opponent, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the staunchly anti-immigrant National Front.

This did not indicate an attempt to influence the outcome of the election, though, Putin said. "The more so since she always publicly spoke out for developing relations with our country, it would be unusual for us to refuse her".

In Versailles, Macron and Putin will inaugurate an exhibition marking 300 years of Franco-Russian ties since the visit of Russia's modernising tsar Peter the Great to France in 1717.

Against the gilded backdrop of the Palace of Versailles, Macron and Putin pledged to work with each other to fight terrorism.

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Mr Macron portrayed the meeting as just a first step in resetting the country's relations with Russian Federation. Despite being on different sides in the war, Macron also accepted representatives of the Syrian leader should be at future talks.

"I very clearly indicated to President Putin what France is expecting on this issue, and we agreed that we would be monitoring the situation together", Macron told reporters after the talks.

"I reminded him of the importance for France of the respect of all peoples and all minorities, all sensibilities in civil society", Macron said of Putin. 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.

The newly elected French leader said he wanted to work more closely with Russian Federation to try resolve the six-year war in Syria, one of the sticking points in relations between the West and Moscow, which backs Bashar al-Assad's regime.

During his G-7 news conference on Saturday, Macron promised to have a "demanding dialogue" with Russian Federation, especially on Syria.

Macron also brought up LGBT rights in Chechnya, saying he would be "constantly vigilant on these issues". Macron showed him a painting of the young Louis XV, who was king of France at the time of the visit.

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Macron tells Putin Syrian chemical weapons are a 'red line'