Russia is not seeking to influence the presidential race in France, but has the right to meet the representatives of the country’s political parties, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday as he met far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in the Kremlin.
“We attach great importance to our ties with France, and we try to maintain equal relations both with representatives of the current authorities and the opposition,” Putin said.
“We don’t want to influence in any way the events (the French presidential election)in anyway,” he told Le Pen, reported Russian news agency TASS.
Putin acknowledged that Le Pen represented a spectrum of European political forces that was rapidly growing and said he would favour an exchange of ideas on bilateral relations and the current situation in Europe.
National Front (FN) party candidate Le Pen said the meeting was important in the face of the global terrorist threat and that it would be useful if the two countries could share intelligence between each other.
Putin responded that “we were all living in the same difficult conditions and had to recognize the reality of the threat”.
The French politician, who is currently at the top of the polls for the first round of the elections, arrived in Moscow early on Friday and met officials from the Duma’s international affairs committee.
She told the speaker of Duma (lower house of Parliament) that European Union’s sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea were “counterproductive”, “unfair” and even “silly”.
The FN, said Le Pen, did not believe in the diplomacy of threats or sanctions, which unfortunately the EU used increasingly frequently on Moscow and its own member states, Efe news reported.