Putin to meet with Macron in Paris on May 29

French President Emmanuel Macron will host President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation in Versailles next Monday, their first meeting after Macron pledged during his election campaign to deal firmly with Russian Federation while also seeking to work with Putin against the Islamic State group.

Macron's first non-European trip as President of France has been to Mali.

Macron is visiting France's largest overseas military mission and following up on his campaign promise that fighting terror would be a top priority. It is France's largest overseas military mission, with more than 4,000 soldiers in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.

The Putin-Macron meeting will follow Donald Trump's first trip overseas as U.S. president, with stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels and a G7 summit in Italy.

Visiting the French forces there was one of the first things Macron had promised to do during his presidential campaign if he was elected President.

During the presidential election campaign, Macron was viewed as having a tougher line on Russian Federation than his main rivals, although he has said it was vital to continue talking to Moscow.

French President Emmanuel Macron poses with French troops during his visit to the France's Barkhane counter-terrorism operation in Africa's Sahel region in Gao, northern Mali, 19 May 2017.

Mr Macron was travelling with Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who as the former defence minister knows Gao well, and his replacement in that job, Ms Sylvie Goulard.

Some European Union countries which withdrew their ambassadors from Syria as the conflict worsened in the country have indicated a willingness for more communication with Damascus given the ongoing fight against Islamic State militants even though France and Britain have staunchly opposed it.

Regardless of the French and United Nations forces' efforts, the International Federation on Human Rights (FIDH) has described Mali's level of insecurity as "unprecedented". He said operations would be escalated in response to signs that militant groups were regrouping and uniting.

In March, the three main jihadist groups in the region merged under the command of Ansar Dine leader Iyad Ag-Ghaly, calling the new group Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin.

France has been hard hit by Islamist attacks, which have killed more than 230 people on its territory in the past two years.

  • Zachary Reyes