Macron “confident” of progress in Russia relations after Libya talks with Putin

French President Emmanuel Macron is confident of progress in key areas of Russia, especially the crisis in Libya, his office said on Friday following a video conference with Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin.

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Macron is “convinced that we can make progress with Russia on a number of subjects,” a senior French presidential election told reporters, citing “a common interest in stabilizing Libya and the reunification of its institutions”.

In recent months, Macron has pursued a policy of rapprochement with Russia and reached Putin over key areas of disagreement such as Ukraine, in a strategy that has disturbed some EU allies.

Hiscall with Putin comes amid a spat between France and Turkey, which Macron has accused of playing a “dangerous game” in Libya.

Turkey has intervened decisively in recent weeks in Libya, providing air support, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help the Tripoli-based government reject a year-long attack by eastern military leader Khalifa Haftar.

Russia supports Haftar, and France is also suspected of favoring him – although Paris insists it is neutral in the conflict.

In the talks with Putin, Macron expressed “all the concerns caused by the strengthening of the Turkish presence in Libya,” the official said.

But the official added that Macron also, with Putin, aroused “foreign involvement in Libya” including the presence of mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization allegedly run by a trust in Putin.

According to the Kremlin’s website, Putin told Macron: “I know your way of thinking that aims to organize joint work on many of these topics. We will support your suggestions in every way possible.”

The Kremlin said that both leaders demanded weapons of arms in Libya and return to dialogue.

>> Interview: Libya “Faces Real Risk of Partition”

Invitation to Russia

The French official said that during two hours of talks, Putin had also invited Macron to Russia and the French president had accepted, although no date has been set.

The visit is likely to take place “in the coming months” and “before the end of the year”, although the coronavirus crisis must be considered, the official says.

The Kremlin also said that Putin extended an invitation to “dear Emmanuel” to visit Russia. The French leader had planned to attend events at Red Square last month to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.

But that event was canceled as a result of the pandemic, although it then went ahead – without Macron present – in Moscow on Wednesday.

(AXADLE with REUTERS)

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