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France, Russia Vow To Set Aside Differences, Fight Extremism Together

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian (file photo)

The French and Russian foreign ministers vowed on July 6 to put aside their countries' differences and fight extremism together.

"International terrorism is our No. 1 enemy and combating it means really putting to side all the rest," Russia's Sergei Lavrov said after meeting his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Paris.

Both countries have been hit by several attacks claimed by the Islamic State extremist group in recent years. Le Drian said Paris and Moscow are facing "a common enemy" in Syria.

He said Moscow and Paris "share a common objective -- peace -- and it is a question of national security both for France and for Russia."

Russia has come under increasing diplomatic pressure from Western nations to distance itself from the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after the UN's chemical weapons watchdog said Damascus used sarin nerve gas in an April attack that killed dozens of civilians.

But Moscow has dismissed the UN findings, saying they were based on "questionable data."

Le Drian said that France and Russia disagree about the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhun, but they "both very strongly oppose" the use of chemical weapons.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters