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MOSCOW, July 23. /TASS/. France’s National Assembly deputy and co-chairman of the French-Russian Dialogue association Thierry Mariani has told journalists Thursday that he does not dramatize the official Paris’ reaction to his visit to Crimea.
"I have been the deputy of France’s National Assembly for many years. I organized a visit to Iraq before US’ invasion," he said. "I am not part of the French government, but I respect its position, though I have my own position," Mariani noted.
The deputy noted that he plans to exchange opinion with Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin. "Russian-French parliamentary commission gathered once a year before, and this meeting is aimed at resuming contacts," he noted.
A parliamentary delegation from France arrived for a two-day visit to the Crimean peninsula on July 23. The delegation includes more than 10 members of the French National Assembly and the Senate. During their visit to Yalta and Sevastopol, French lawmakers are expected to meet Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov and chairman of Crimea's State Council Vladimir Konstantinov.
Mariani, who leads the French delegation, told Russian Kommersant newspaper on Tuesday that parliamentarians had not consulted with the Ukrainian authorities before the trip. "French deputies are free to make their own decisions," Mariani said.