• Macron, Putin hold ‘frank’ talks on Syria, Ukraine


    VERSAILLES, France: France’s President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin sought to improve their countries’ strained ties on Monday during talks at Versailles palace the French leader described as “extremely frank.” 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. 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. Putin admitted to some differences of opinion in the talks, which covered issues including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, but insisted that Franco-Russian ties withstood “all points of friction.” “We disagree on a number of things but at least we discussed them,” Macron said. “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.



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