Saturday 19 October 2019

France ready to 'ease tensions' with Russia

French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Photo: Reuters
French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Photo: Reuters

David Chazan

France says the time has come to start bringing Russia in from the cold, as ministers held talks in Moscow yesterday for the first time since the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, said a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine at the weekend had created a "window of opportunity" to ease tensions.

"The time is right to work towards reducing the distrust between Russia and Europe, who ought to be partners on a strategic and economic level," said Mr Le Drian.

He stressed it was still too early to lift sanctions imposed on Russia in 2014 over Crimea and its support for armed pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, as he held talks with his Russian counterparts.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, wants to take the lead on bringing Russia back into conversation with the West despite tension over Moscow's support for the Assad regime in Syria and its policies on Iran, Libya and the Central African Republic.

© Daily Telegraph London

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