France's Le Pen won't use Russia contacts during Putin visit

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Two days before the May 7 election run-off, Mr Macron's team said thousands of hacked campaign e-mails had been put online in a leak that one New York-based analyst said could have come from a group tied to Russian military intelligence.

"I will not give an inch on this".

His invitation to the Russia leader was a surprise after the tough stance on Russia Macron took during the French election. "It would be odd for us to refuse her", he said.

Coinciding with Putin's visit to France on Monday, two gay couples unfurled a banner reading "End Homophobia in Chechnya" and kissed, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

The leaders' first handshakes - relatively brief and cordial - after Mr Putin climbed out of his limousine at Versailles were far less macho than Mr Macron's now famous who-will-blink-first handshake showdown with US President Donald Trump when the two leaders met for the first time last week.

Macron said he, Putin and the leaders of Germany and Ukraine would meet soon for talks, "which will allow us to make a complete evaluation of the situation".

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".

French companies are interested in expanding economic cooperation with Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference after talks with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. But they're "totally distinct from diplomatic contacts" of Macron and his government, Bay said.

Russia's official RIA-Novosti news agency quoted presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying the Kremlin doesn't agree with Macron's characterization of the state media.

Macron's invitation for Putin was a surprise after his tough stance on Russian Federation during the French election.

Le Pen visited Putin in Moscow in March while running in France's presidential election, which she lost to Macron this month.

Putin was widely seen as supporting National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who lost in the second round of the election to Macron.

The newly elected French leader called for a stronger partnership with Russian Federation on Syria, one of the sticking points in relations between the West and Moscow which backs Bashar al Assad regime.

He said it would be unusual if Russian Federation rebuffed overtures from European politicians who want to strengthen relations, but added that the meeting did not represent an attempt to sway the race. Putin, who supports al-Assad, said he believes the stability of the Syrian state is crucial to combatting terrorism.

The newly elected French leader said he favoured "a democratic transition" in Syria that would "preserve the Syrian state".

French President Emmanuel Macron characterized the exchange of views with Russian President Vladimir Putin as open and frank.

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.

Sounding less forthcoming, Putin said he was not sure if France's Syria policy was "independent" because it was part of a U.S-led alliance, adding that Paris and Moscow had both points of disagreement and agreement over Syria.

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