French and Russian leaders say "frank exchange" exposed common ground over difficult issues like Syria
The use of chemical weapons in Syria is a red line for France and would result in reprisals, Emmanuel Macron said on Monday during his first meeting as president of France with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“Any use of chemical weapons would results in reprisals and an immediate riposte, at least where France is concerned,” Macron said at a joint news conference with Putin in which he added that his aim was the fight against terrorism in the country. He said he wanted to work with Putin to that end.
The two countries back different sides in the Syrian conflict, with Putin behind President Bashar al-Assad and Macron part of a western coalition that supports rebel groups and has accused Assad of using chemical weapons in the past. Macron said he had a frank exchange of views with Putin, and that the two had aired their disagreements on a number of subjects.
Putin said there was nothing to discuss about allegations of Moscow’s meddling in foreign elections, and that Macron had not raised this issue.
By meeting Macron’s presidential election rival Marine Le Pen in Moscow in March, the Kremlin did not try to influence the vote, Putin told a joint news briefing with Macron.
Referring to Le Pen’s visit, Putin said he saw nothing wrong in Moscow not pushing away foreign politicians seeking good relations with Russia. If she sought a meeting, why should Russia refuse her, Putin asked.