USA election claims fiction, insists Vladimir Putin

Nonetheless, Russia's ambassador to Paris, Alexander Orlov said on Monday that he expected this first meeting between the two men to be full of "smiles" and marking the beginning of "a very good and long relationship".

This time, the handshake was warmer but the tone guarded after an hour of talks on the 300th anniversary of a visit to Versailles by tsar Peter the Great.

Last Friday at G7 talks in Sicily, European Council President Donald Tusk urged the group's leaders to stick to their sanctions, but his urging came a day after a senior US official said Washington had no position on the issue.

At the G7 summit in Sicily at the weekend Mr Macron said: "It is essential to talk to Russian Federation because there are a number of worldwide issues that will not be resolved without a tough dialogue with them".

"Our absolute priority is the fight against terrorism and the eradication of terrorist groups and Daesh in particular", he said, using an alternate name for the Islamic State group that has claimed several deadly attacks in France.

French President Emmanuel Macron has his own views on worldwide politics, bilateral relations and his position is rather pragmatic, Russian President Vladimir Putin told French newspaper Le Figaro.

Macron said he favoured a democratic transition in Syria that would "preserve the Syrian state".

The new French leader also threatened an "instant response" should chemical weapons be used in Syria in a muscular exchange with his Russian counterpart at Louis XIV's sumptuous Versailles palace outside Paris this week. Putin also commented to Macron on a painting depicting Russian Empress Catherine the Great.

During the campaign, which climaxed with Macron's election on May 7, Macron's camp also irritated the Kremlin by saying its campaign's networks, databases and sites had come under attack from locations inside Russian Federation.

"They behaved like organs of influence, of propaganda and of lying propaganda", he said.

RT shrugged off Macron's accusations.

Macron also revealed that Putin has taken measures to "establish the complete truth on the activities of local authorities" in Chechnya.

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.

Following their almost two-hour meeting, Putin told reporters that the cyberattack didn't come up, saying, "The French president did not show any interest, and I even less". Putin said that sanctions placed on Russian Federation over its acts in Ukraine were "in no way" helping stabilize the situation.

"As a person who pays utmost attention to personal contacts, Putin believes that only a one-on-one meeting could give answers to many questions about Macron as a person and president of France, as well as his future foreign policy course and his stance on Russia", Tatyana Stanovaya of the Center for Political Technologies, an independent Moscow-based think-tank, wrote in a commentary.

During the campaign, Macron backed expanded sanctions if there were no progress with Moscow implementing a peace accord for eastern Ukraine, where Kiev's forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists.

Mr Putin's goal of the meeting was to underscore his demands for Europe to lift sanctions against Russian Federation and to re-establish a warm relationship Russian Federation previously had with France.

Putin, who was standing beside Macron, said the matter was not discussed during their talks, but still denied the allegations.

  • Leroy Wright