Macron confronts Putin over lies in Russian media

Macron also took the bull by the horns on human rights, saying Putin had promised him "the whole truth" about an alleged crackdown on gay men in Russian-controlled Chechnya and warning he would be "vigilant" on the issue. Putin has denied interfering with the French elections, though Reuters reported that the Russian president recoiled when he was asked about this by a reporter today.

The Russian leader went on to say that his talks with Macron helped the pair to find common points in dealing with major global problems, and the that two sides would try to further bring together their views on these issues.

"I wouldn't really like to see the zones turn into prototypes of the territorial split of Syria in the future", he said. "Russia Today and Sputnik ... behaved as organs of influence, of propaganda, of lying propaganda".

Macron was the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the Group of Seven summit the French leader attended over the weekend, where relations with Russian Federation were a key topic.

Though Trump leaned in first, he tried to release his hand from the lengthy shake, twice, while Macron kept squeezing.

Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron is already standing up to Donald Trump, and making him look bad in the process.

Macron, who took office two weeks ago, has said dialogue with Russian Federation is vital in tackling a number of worldwide disputes.

Answering journalists' questions, Putin rejected as "media hypothesis" the allegation that the hacking of Macron's campaign was carried out by Russian intelligence.

Mr Putin on Monday again dismissed the idea as unfounded press speculation.

Putin also offered Macron's far-right opponent Marine Le Pen a publicity coup when he granted her an audience a month before the election's first round.

Mr Putin described Ms Le Pen as a politician who wants to develop friendly ties with Russian Federation and said it would have been odd to rebuff her overtures.

Mr Macron said he wanted France to "strengthen" its "partnership with Russia" in its fight against so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria. When they emerged from talks, which went on for nearly an hour longer than scheduled, Macron said they had had a "frank exchange" and both men stressed they had agreed on the need to move forward on divisive issues such as Syria and Ukraine.

"On Syria, I remind you.our priority is the fight against terrorism, in particular Daesh or the Islamic State (IS)", Macron said, underling that France must "reinforce" its partnership with Russian Federation in order to "assure stability, democratic transition with a red line: the use of chemical weapons by whoever it may be".

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 global coalition.

Ties between Russian Federation and France became increasingly strained under Mr Macron's predecessor François Hollande.

"What's important is that during our talks today we sensed that we look at many things in the same way, although there are some differences", Putin said. I believe we've had an extremely frank and direct exchange.

"One must show that we won't make little concessions, even symbolic ones", Macron said.

Ahead of Putin's visit, the 39-year-old centrist told a French weekly that he was not "bothered" by leaders who "think in terms of power dynamics". As Putin stepped out of his auto, many people pulled out their cameras to capture the greeting between the two leaders.

On Syria, Putin underlined the importance of securing the Syrian state, adding that it's essential for combating terrorism.

Macron advocated "a democratic transition that preserves the Syrian state", warning that "failed states" in the Middle East were a threat to the West. The exhibition has been organised to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the visit of Peter the Great, the Russian emperor, in 1717.

  • Leroy Wright