Macron aims to soothe tensions in controversial visit from Putin
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, will attempt to defuse tension with Russia over the Iran tanker crisis, Crimea, Syria and the Skripal poisoning in a controversial meeting with Vladimir Putin today.
Mr Macron faced criticism for inviting the Russian leader to France while Mr Putin is intent on crushing opposition protests in Moscow and remains intransigent over Crimea and Syria.
Mr Putin, who will be received at the Fort de Brégançon, the presidential summer retreat on the Riviera, will not attend the G7 summit in Biarritz, in south-western France, at the weekend. But Mr Macron will try to persuade him that better relations with Western countries could help restore Russia's place among the group of industrialised nations.
It was suspended in 2014 from the G8, as it was then known, over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Mr Macron will report to his fellow G7 leaders on his talks with Mr Putin. But many analysts believe he is unlikely to have any influence.
Galia Ackerman, a Russia expert, said France would gain nothing from the visit. "He has given none of the assurances you would expect on human rights, democracy or fair elections. Inviting Vladimir Putin to France will only bolster his aggressive positions."
But Hubert Vedrine, a former French foreign minister, said Mr Macron was right to attempt to re-establish a dialogue.
He said: "We will always be neighbours of Russia. So what do we do? Either we stick to a policy of condemnation, sanctions that stupidly push Russia towards China, which is not at all what the Russians want, or we try to restore a neighbourly discussion, even if it's complicated." (© Daily Telegraph London)