French president flexes diplomatic muscles in Putin meeting

"It is urgent to stop considering Russian Federation as an enemy, as this is a country with whom we (France) have very strong ties that go way back", Bay said at a news conference at party headquarters outside Paris.

Macron told a French weekly that he was "not bothered" by leaders who "think in terms of power ratios", citing Putin as an example along with Trump.

Mr Macron's election team accused Russian agents of launching cyber attacks against them during his campaign for the presidency. It was the first encounter between the two men since Macron's decisive May 7 victory over right-wing rival Marine Le Pen, a Putin admirer whom the Kremlin and its surrogates appeared to favor.

Referring to Le Pen's visit, Putin said he saw nothing wrong in Moscow not pushing away foreign politicians seeking good relations with Russian Federation.

Putin says it would be unusual if Russian Federation rebuffed overtures from European politicians who want to strengthen relations.

Macron made the remark in answer to a question at a joint news conference with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Macron's full-on blast at the state news agency Sputnik and broadcaster Russia Today came at a news conference with Putin standing at his side.

Macron, who was sworn in just two weeks ago, promised in advance he would have "demanding" talks with Putin in their first meeting.

"I have always had exemplar relations with foreign journalists but as a politician I should expressly say that when media bodies disseminate a shameless lie, these are not journalists, this is the work of the bodies for exerting influence".

"Russia Today and Sputnik were organs of influence during this campaign, which, on several occasions produced untruths about me and my campaign".

"I will be demanding in my exchanges with Russia", Macron said after the G7 summit on Saturday. "Russia Today and Sputnik. behaved as organs of influence, of propaganda, of lying propaganda".

VERSAILLES, France-French President Emmanuel Macron and his counterpart Vladimir Putin of Russia strained Monday to turn the page on allegations of Russian interference in France's elections well as their differences over Syria, with the French leader describing the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime as a "red line".

He did not specify what form such reprisals could take, but France flies warplanes over Syria and Iraq, striking IS targets as part of an worldwide coalition.

Outside the Versailles Palace, reporters waited eagerly for a potentially tense Franco-Russian handshake.

Macron said that "no [international] issue can be addressed without a dialogue with Russia".

"Putin likes these big symbolic things".

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, seemingly unfazed, pushed back any suggestion that Russian Federation sought to influence the election. Macron took the same stance, saying: "I want us to organise a democratic transition but also preserve a Syrian state".

He said: "Failed states in the region are a threat to our democracies, and we have seen each time they have enabled terrorist groups to advance".

Later Monday, Putin was visiting a newly built Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center near the Seine River that includes the Holy Trinity Cathedral. The exhibition has been organised to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the visit of Peter the Great, the Russian emperor, in 1717.

  • Zachary Reyes