The Putin-Macron handshake the world was waiting for

Putin welcomed the overtures while avoiding any public conflict with his French host, even over Macron's accusation that Russian media spread lies during the campaign, which came in response to a Russian reporter's question.

"I am convinced that France and Russia's main interests go beyond the points of friction".

President Donald Trump says he'll make a final decision next week on whether the US will stay in the Paris climate agreement.

Macron said it was essential to talk with all actors in the Syria conflict, including representatives of Assad.

Putin said at a joint news conference with Macron that he had no reason to refuse a meeting with Le Pen, who had visited Moscow before and long worked to develop ties.

The French leader said this issue demands "an inclusive political solution". Moscow has also protected him against United Nations security council votes over the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.

But in an apparent warning to Assad and Russian Federation, he said the use of chemical weapons was a "red line" that would draw an "immediate response" from France.

"Any use of chemical weapons would results in reprisals and an immediate riposte, at least where France is concerned", Macron said, standing next to Putin in the Versailles palace outside of Paris.

Before becoming president this month, Mr Macron accused Russian Federation of pursuing "a hybrid strategy combining military intimidation and an information war".

Mr Putin used the news conference to call for these sanctions to be lifted, saying they did not help create stability in the east.

Macron also brought up LGBT rights in Chechnya, saying he would be "constantly vigilant on these issues".

On a bilateral level, the two leaders agreed to set up a Franco-Russian "forum of civil societies", modelled on a similar Germano-Russian initiative, to foster dialogue between academics, business circles, and intellectuals.

This time, the handshake was warmer but the tone guarded after an hour of talks on the 300th anniversary of a visit to Versailles by tsar Peter the Great.

The two men then entered the palace to start their talks.

"Peter the Great is a symbol of Russian Federation that wants to open to the Europe", Macron noted, adding that the "friendship" and "dialogue" between the two countries had never ceased.

Macron's invitation for Putin was a surprise after his tough stance on Russian Federation during the French presidential campaign.

During his presidential campaign, Hollande's successor Macron was the target of Russian-sponsored media attacks and hacks. Putin did more than any other foreign leader to undermine Macron's legitimacy in this country's recent presidential election, meeting with his far-right opponent during the campaign.

Putin isn't the first world leader whom Macron, 39, put the squeeze on in the past week.

Macron noted that on 7 May, in the presidential election, "France sovereignly expressed its attachment to its independence".

Macron was the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the Group of Seven summit the French leader attended over the weekend, where relations with Russian Federation were a key topic.

Putin in March met at the Kremlin with Le Pen, who echoed nationalist sentiments seen sweeping through American and European votes in the past year. "Besides, that is nearly impossible", he said.

Putin said it would be unusual if Russian Federation rebuffed overtures from European politicians who want to strengthen relations.

French President Emmanuel Macron drives an electric golf vehicle with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the gardens of the Versailles Palace following their frank meeting.

"When I've said things once, I am not accustomed to coming back to them", he said.

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