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Putin, Macron Vow Closer Cooperation To Tackle Global Challenges

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French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin (file photo)

In a video call, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, have vowed to cooperate more closely to tackle international crisis.

Putin said on June 26 that the discussions touched upon the crises in Ukraine, Syria, and Libya, as well as tensions in the Balkans region, among other matters, and spoke of the need to "combine our efforts" to combat common threats such as the coronavirus pandemic, international terrorism, and climate change.

Macron said that "all regional crises we've experienced shows the importance of making the European space, in a broad sense, from Lisbon to Vladivostok, a real space of cooperation and peace."

Relations between Moscow and the West remain at post-Cold War lows over issues including Russia's aggression of Ukraine, its role in Syria's conflict, its alleged meddling in elections in the United States and other democracies, as well as the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in Britain in 2018.

But Macron has called on Europe and NATO to reexamine their strategic partnership with Russia, saying that a policy of defiance toward Moscow in recent years has failed – a call that has discomforted some of its Western allies.

Macron is "confident that we can make progress with Russia on a number of subjects," a French presidential official told reporters, adding that the two leaders spent most of their conversation discussing the situation in Libya.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, cited "a common interest in the stabilization of Libya and the reunification of its institutions."

He said that Macron called for an end to foreign interference in the North African country, including by the so-called Vagner group of mostly former Russian service personnel who have been involved in clandestine operations in foreign countries.

Russia and several other countries have backed Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar in its war against forces backing the UN-recognized Government of National Accord, which is mainly backed by Turkey.

On Ukraine, where fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists has killed some 13,200 people since April 2014, Macron emphasized that quickly relaunching the implementation of a road map aimed at ending the conflict that was agreed to during a Paris meeting in December of the leaders of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine.

In its readout of the call, the Kremlin said Putin said Ukraine needed to fulfill its obligations under a 2015 deal brokered by France and Germany aimed at putting an end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

During the videoconference, the Russian president extended an invitation to Macron to visit Russia.

Macron said he would be happy to visit "so we could spend a lot more time together," but only "if health conditions allow," possibly at the end of summer.

Macron planned to attend the events in Red Square last month to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the World War II victory over Nazi Germany, but that event was postponed until June 23 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the French president did not attend.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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