TEHRAN, May 29, YJC - Russian President Vladimir Putin has started an official visit to France in what many see as an attempt to mend strained ties with the West.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -
Putin arrived in Paris on Monday and was welcomed by newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron at the Palace of Versailles.
The two leaders started face-to-face talks at Versailles.
The Kremlin said the visit to France would be a chance for Putin and Macron to reach a better understanding on key disputes, including the situation in Ukraine and Syria and how the European Union and Russia should interact in the future.
Macron is the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Italy over the weekend.
Macron vowed in his briefing with reporters after the G7 summit that he would try to have a "demanding dialogue” with Putin, especially regarding the conflict in Syria, where Russia and the West support the opposite sides of the war.
"We must talk to Russia to change the framework for getting out of the military crisis in Syria and to build a much more collective and integrated inclusive political solution,” Macron said, regretting that European nations had been unable to properly contribute to talks on Syria’s future despite their hosting of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have escaped the war at home.
Putin’s visit comes at the official invitation of the new French president, something that has been met with ire in France, especially given Macron’s harsh rhetoric on Russia before he took office earlier this month.
Macron’s rivals in the presidential race, including far-right leader Marine Le Pen and conservative Francois Fillon, had both demanded an end to West’s sanctions on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine. Macron has, however, repeatedly declared his support for the regime of sanctions on Russia if there is no progress in implementing a peace accord in eastern Ukraine.
Russia’s ties with France were on a deteriorating path in the final months of Socialist Francois Hollande’s presidency. Putin even canceled a scheduled trip to Paris in October, after the French government demanded an international action on Russia’s airstrikes against terrorist groups in Syria.
Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, called the current state of ties between France and Russia as unsatisfactory, saying talks between Putin and Macron could open up an "interesting discussion” on the conflict in Ukraine, Presstv reported.
France and Russia, along with Ukraine and Germany, are parties to a 2015 peace agreement on the conflict in Ukraine. The deal, known as the Minsk II Accords, was supposed to put an end to months of fighting in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives. However, the war has continued, with pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian military blaming each other for the continued violence.