Macron in Russia for high-stakes talks with Putin

Macron in Russia for high-stakes talks with Putin

MOSCOW: French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Saint Petersburg on Thursday to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, with the Iran nuclear deal as well as conflicts in Syria and Ukraine on the agenda.

The trip is Macron's first to Russia as president and follows a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week. Europe and Moscow are making diplomatic overtures to save the Iran deal, now under threat after the recent US withdrawal.

The French and Russian leaders will "take the time for an in-depth one-on-one discussion", according the Elysee.

Macron will be accompanied by his wife Brigitte during the trip, which will also see him address the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The meeting comes almost exactly a year since the freshly elected Macron hosted Putin in Versailles, when the French leader accused Russian media of producing "lying propaganda" during a joint press conference.

The talks take place after President Donald Trump in early May controversially pulled the US out of the 2015 landmark pact with Iran that placed limits on its nuclear programme in return for easing economic sanctions.

Washington is threatening stinging fresh sanctions if Tehran does not comply with a set of strict new demands.

Saving the deal provides a rare point of agreement between Moscow and European countries, which have seen relations tank in recent years over crises in Ukraine and Syria, as well as accusations of meddling in foreign elections and the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain.

"Russia shares the position of the majority of the international community including Western leaders" when it comes to the Iran deal, said Alexander Baunov of the Carnegie Moscow Centre. AFP/APP