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France calls for easing of tensions with Russia

September 9, 2019

The French foreign minister has called during a Moscow visit for better ties with Russia. Relations between Europe and Russia have been strained since the EU and US imposed sanctions over Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Moscow
Image: picture alliance/dpa/M. Blinov

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday called for a thawing of relations between France and Russia

"The time has come, the time is right, to work towards reducing distrust," Le Drian told a news conference in Moscow.     

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said progress on rebuilding ties was "possible and necessary."

The foreign and defense ministers from both countries were meeting in the so-called 2+2 format, which was suspended after Russia's actions in Crimea in 2014.

Le Drian said that it was premature to withdraw sanctions against Moscow that were imposed after the annexation of Crimea and over the Kremlin's support for an insurgency by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. 

"It's not yet the time to lift sanctions. (But) we are seeing a new state of mind compared to that of the last few years, which we are pleased about," Le Drian added.

Macron's rapprochement

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted President Vladimir Putin for talks in southern France last month.

The meeting in Fort Bregancon was an attempt by Macron at a rapprochement with Moscow, which has frequently been at odds with the international community — and more particularly the EU — in past years over several issues, including its involvement in the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

kw/tj (AFP, Reuters)

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