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Russian President Vladimir Putin urges Emmanuel Macron to engage in ‘joint work’ with Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin (AFP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the winner of France’s presidential election, Emmanuel Macron, to join forces with Russia to help ensure peace and stability in the world.
In a congratulatory telegram on Monday, Putin said the French president-elect should try to overcome mutual distrust between France and Russia at “a difficult time for Europe and the whole world community,” according to a Kremlin statement.
“The growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism is accompanied by an escalation of local conflicts and the destabilization of entire regions,” said Putin, adding, “In these conditions it is especially important to overcome mutual distrust and join forces to ensure international stability and security.”
Macron was officially elected president on Monday after winning 66.1 percent of valid votes in the run-off. His rival, Marine Le Pen, garnered only 33.9 percent of the votes.
During the French presidential campaign, Putin was believed to be throwing his weight behind far-right Le Pen.
Le Pen even paid a surprise visit to Moscow in the run-up to the vote. There were also reports that alleged cyber attacks against Macron’s campaign were carried out by government-backed Russian hackers. Aids to Macron had even accused Russian media of involvement in a smear campaign against the centrist candidate.
Putin, however, wished Macron “strong health, prosperity and success in such a responsible position at the head of state,” according to the statement.
Outgoing French President Francois Hollande (R) stands by President-elect Emmanuel Macron (L) as they attend a ceremony marking the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany during World War II on May 8, 2017 in Paris. 
The Kremlin said Putin also “confirmed his readiness for constructive joint work on current bilateral, regional and global issues, expressing certainty that this would be in the fundamental interests of the Russian and French people.”
Tensions have been running high between Russia and the West over the crises in Ukraine and Syria.
Kiev and its Western allies, including Paris, accuse Moscow of having a hand in the deadly conflict which has been grappling the mainly-Russian speaking regions in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The Kremlin, however, denies such a role.
Moscow-West ties worsened when the Black Sea Crimean Peninsula decided in a popular referendum to separate from Ukraine and reunite with the Russian Federation the same year. The two sides have slapped tit-for-tat sanctions on each other over the issue.
In 2014 and 2015, Russia, France and Germany brokered two peace deals in Minsk, Belarus, between Kiev and the pro-Moscow forces operating in eastern Ukraine, but the agreements have failed to contain the deadly violence there.
In the Syria crisis, Russia and France, along with its Western and regional allies, have been supporting opposing sides. Moscow is an ally of the Syrian government, while the other camp has been supporting the militants wreaking havoc on the Arab state since 2011.

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