France and Russia vow to put aside differences and fight extremism

The French and Russian foreign ministers vowed Thursday to put aside their countries' differences to fight and defeat extremism.

France and Russia vow to put aside differences and fight extremism
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris.

“International terrorism is our number one enemy and combatting it means really putting to side all the rest,” Russia's Sergei Lavrov after meeting French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris.

France is part of an international coalition battling jihadists in Iraq and Syria and Russia intervened in 2015 in the Syrian conflict on the side of Damascus.

Both have been hit by several attacks claimed by the Islamic State group in recent years and Le Drian said Paris and Moscow were facing “a common enemy” in Syria.

He said Moscow and Paris “share a common objective, peace, and it is a question of national security both for France and for Russia.”

Russia has come under increasing diplomatic pressure from Western nations to distance itself from the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after the UN's chemical weapons watchdog said Damascus used sarin in an April attack on a rebel-held town.

Moscow dismissed last month's report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, saying its findings were based on “questionable data”.

Le Drian admitted that France and Russia disagreed over the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhun, but said they were “both very strongly opposed” to the use of chemical weapons.


France’s Macron to host Putin ahead of G7 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed Saturday he had invited his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for talks on August 19th, days before hosting a G7 summit.

France's Macron to host Putin ahead of G7 summit
Photo: AFP

Macron said the meeting with Putin would take place at his summer retreat, the medieval fort of Bregancon near the village of Bormes-les-Mimosas on France's Mediterranean coast.

Speaking in Bormes-les-Mimosas, he said the fort was chosen because it offers the possibility “to work in isolation… and receive foreign leaders, which I will do with Vladimir Putin in a few weeks' time”. 

Following the bilateral talks, leaders from the world's seven most developed nations are set to gather in the southwestern French city of Biarritz on August 24th-26th.

France holds the 2019 presidency of the G7, which also includes Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Russia was slung out of what used to be the G8 in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

In late June, Macron had already announced he planned to meet Putin after the two leaders had a long conversation.

“I believe that within the framework of the G7, it's essential that we take this initiative (with Russia)… in order to explore all the forms of cooperation on key topics of destabilisation or conflict, without naivety but without closing the door,” he had said at the time.

Macron interrupted his holiday in Bregancon on Saturday for a one-day trip to Tunisia to attend the funeral of president Beji Caid Essebsi.

By the evening, he was back in Bormes-les-Mimosas where he posed for pictures with onlookers.

Last year, Macron came under attack after it emerged that he had installed a 34,000 swimming pool at Bregancon as part of renovations. 

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