Macron told Putin to his face that Russian media spread fake news

"We have disagreements, but at least we talked about them", he added.

"When press outlets spread defamatory untruths, they are no longer journalists, they are organs of influence", Macron said. "They are influence operations", Macron said, as Putin shifted uneasily from side to side.

As the French election neared, Putin expressly backed Macron's opponent, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the staunchly anti-immigrant National Front.

France's youngest ever president made a successful debut on the world stage last week, holding his own against Trump at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels and winning plaudits from his peers at a G7 summit in Italy.

Immediately afterwards, RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan told state news agency Itar-Tass her publication was taking some of Macron's allies to court for claims during the campaign that they were not credible media representatives thus blocking them from his campaign.

Their first meeting since Macron took office provided another test of the Frenchman's diplomatic skills after his memorable vice-grip handshake last week with US President Donald Trump.

Macron, 39, who won the May 17 election in a landslide, said he and Putin had "extremely frank" talks but emphasized that Russian Federation and France could work together on issues like terrorism.

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed on Tuesday any suggestion that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces were behind a chemical attack that killed scores of people in Idlib province in April.

Both media outlets are controlled by the Russian government. France and Russian Federation back different sides in the Syrian conflict, with Putin supporting 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.

But he said France and Russian Federation, which backs Assad, should work together on Syria and he said he wanted France and Russian Federation to boost sharing of intelligence in working together to find a political solution to the conflict.

"Our two countries will cooperate on Syria, this is essential", Macron said.

"I will not give an inch on this", he said.

On the subject of rights in Chechnya, Macron said he had discussed the reports with Putin and that they had agreed on a "very regular monitoring" of the situation.

While Macron is certainly not a flawless progressive politician, we should be relieved that it was him in that chair and not Le Pen, who would only further embolden Trump and the far-right around the globe.

He even used an exhibition of Peter the Great, the ostensible reason for Putin's visit, to take a jab at the Kremlin leader.

  • Leroy Wright