Le Pen, Putin talk terrorism in surprise Kremlin meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a surprise meeting on Friday with French presidential candidate and far-right leader Marine Le Pen in Moscow, one month before the France elections.

Opinion polls show the anti-EU, anti-immigrant Front National leader qualifying for the April 23 first round of the presidential election but losing the May 7 run-off to centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen, who has said she admires Putin, reiterated her call for a lifting of the European Union's economic sanctions imposed on Russian Federation over its role in the Ukraine conflict.

"At the same time, I see that Hollande does not ask the U.S. for explanations, although it turned out the Central Intelligence Agency eavesdropped on some European leaders and the 2012 candidates for the [French] presidential elections", she said.

"We reserve the right to talk to representatives of all the country's political forces, just as our partners in Europe and the United States do."

"We have seen how intensively they have played the Russian theme in the USA presidential campaign, and we now can see Le Pen's rivals trying to exploit this theme in the French campaign", she said.

Le Pen, who leads the National Front party, said the West's poor relations with Russian Federation are unjustified. Her party took a loan worth nine million Euro in 2014 from a Moscow-based bank.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday said Le Pen was not a "populist" but a "realist or anti-globalist" figure.

State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin told reporters that Le Pen would visit an exhibition of French Gothic art at the Kremlin.

"The French and German elections are two crucial points this year". The topic was not discussed with Putin, she said.

"They provided loans to all candidates running in the French presidential election, except for me", Le Pen emphasized.

Putin, last year, also met with two other pro-Russian French politicians, the centre-right presidential candidate, Francois Fillon, and the centre-right former president Nikolas Sarkozy.

According to Reuters, no matter what Le Pen's reasons are, her supporters in France must be quite pleased with her meeting with the Russian president. She has also noted that if she is elected as president, mosques and places of Islamic teaching will be closed down. The JP Morgan analysts said they do not expect a repeat in the event Le Pen sees off Macron and Fillon. Reinstating border controls and stopping factory jobs from moving overseas will be her priorities if she wins power in May, she said, and "the euro will be the final step because I want to wait for the result of the German election".

  • Leroy Wright