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Le Pen To Visit Moscow On March 24 Amid Scrutiny Over Kremlin Ties

Marine Le Pen

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen will visit Moscow on March 24 to discuss Russian-French cooperation and the battle against terrorism.

Interfax reports that the invitation for the one-day visit, which comes a month before the April 23 first-round vote in France’s presidential election, was made by the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Russia’s State Duma, Leonid Slutsky.

Le Pen’s National Front party confirmed the visit.

Le Pen’s relationship with Russia has been in the spotlight during the election campaign, in large part because of a $9.7 million loan her National Front party took from a Russian bank in 2014.

She is considered an outspoken admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has called for closer relations with Russia.

The Kremlin has denied reports that it is trying to influence the French elections campaign.

Public opinion polls suggest the 48-year-old Le Pen is likely to reach a second-round runoff vote on May 7 where she likely would compete against Emmanuel Macron for the presidency.

Polls suggest Macron, a 39-year-old independent who backs EU sanctions against Russia and has accused the Kremlin of being involved in cyberattacks, is likely to win a second-round ballot against Le Pen.

Based on reporting from Reuters, AFP, Interfax and Bloomberg