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PARIS, May 08. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will be a welcome guest at the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday, May 8.
The Kremlin confirmed it was considering the issue.
“We can have different views with Vladimir Putin, but I have not forgotten and will never forget that Russian people gave millions of lives [in World War II],” Hollande said in an interview with the French television channel France 2 on the occasion of Victory in Europe Day celebrated in Europe on May 8.
He stressed that Putin would be “a welcome guest” at the celebrations.
Kremiln spokesman Dmitry Peskov told ITAR-TASS that no decision on Putin’s trip to France had been made so far. “We are considering such a possibility,” he said.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said earlier that the invitation to Putin remained in force. “How can we not invite the president of Russia since the Russian people sustained such enormous losses on the World War II battlefields?” he said.
The minister believes that the Battle of Normandy would not have been successful if there had been no fighting on the eastern front at the same time.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said she would welcome Putin’s participation in the celebrations. “I hoped we would be able to pay tribute to the hard times of World War II despite differences in opinion and major conflicts,” she said at the European Forum, an international conference organised by the media corporation Westdeutscher Rundfunk.
The celebrations will be held in Normandy on June 6. Queen Elizabeth II, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama have confirmed their participation.