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French ambassador confirms preparations underway for Macron's visit to Russia

September 28, 9:13 updated at: September 28, 9:40 UTC+3

The first meeting between the two leaders took place in Versailles on May 29

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© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, September 28. /TASS/. Efforts are being taken to prepare French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Russia, the date will be set later, French Ambassador to Moscow Sylvie Bermann told TASS on Thursday.

"We are preparing French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit. The date has not yet been set but the [French] president has accepted invitation of President [of Russia Vladimir] Putin to visit Russia," she said.

The first meeting between the two leaders took place in Versailles on May 29, when Putin invited his French counterpart to visit Russia.

"We hope for a breakthrough in all areas," she said.

According to Bermann, talks between the two countries’ top diplomats, Sergey Lavrov of Russia and Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, who have met three times since May, were productive on the entire range of issues. "First of all, on the fight against terrorism. It is the most important area of cooperation with Russia," she stressed.

"Of major importance for us is cooperation with Russia on Syria. We want the Syrian crisis to be resolved as soon as possible because it was in that country where terror attacks on France had been plotted," the French diplomat said.

She also noted that the two countries are cooperating on the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. "It should be noted that the sanctions have been imposed not for fun. It means that once possible to lift them we will do it but it depends on the implementation of liabilities under the Minsk agreements," she said.

The Russian-French Council on Economic, Financial, Industrial and Trade Issues will meet at the end of the current year, she went on.  "A meeting of the Russian-French Council on Economic, Financial, Industrial and Trade Issues co-chaired by French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire and Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin will take place at the end of the year," she said.

"Apart from that, France’s former minister, Jean-Pierre Chevenement will visit Moscow," she added.

Initiative to deploy UN mission in Donbass

 France thinks Russia’s initiative to deploy a UN mission in Donbass to ensure protection of the OSCE mission deserves to be closely looked at, she went on.

"We find this initiative interesting," she said when asked about Paris’ opinion about the Russian initiative. "In any case, it deserves to be thoroughly analyzed."

"The high-level week at the United Nations General Assembly session is over and now experts will be able to get to work on the text of the resolution," she added.

France-initiated Contact Group on Syria

Russia will play a major role in a new France-initiated Syrian settlement format - a Contact Group, she added. 

"We believe that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council should make the core of a new negotiating format," she said. "The group can be somewhat extended but, anyway, its format will be narrower than the existing negotiating mechanisms."

According to Bermann, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a country having influence on the ground in Syria, Russia will play a major role in this group. "At the moment, the idea of this group is being elaborated on at the expert and ambassadorial levels," she said. "But when the group is formed, it can meet at the ministerial level."

She stressed the importance of the Astana process for the cessation of hostilities in Syria and noted that now the settlement process is entering a political stage.

At a meeting with US President Donald Trump in Paris in mid-July, French President Emmanuel Macron said that Paris and Washington suggest an international Contact Group be set up to promote post-war stabilization in Syria and support the UN’s efforts.

French visa for Russians

France will reduce the processing period for entry visa issuance for Russian tourists to two days starting from November 1, she said. 

"This decision will be implemented as scheduled," she said. "France is the most popular tourist destination in the world and we will be glad to welcome more Russians. By the way, the number of Russian tourists has considerably increased this year."

Presenting a government roadmap for the tourism sector in July, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said foreign nationals, including Russians, will be able to obtain tourist visas in 48 hours. The initiative will be applicable for countries giving biggest tourist flows. The expedited visa issuance procedures will be launched from November 1, 2017.

Russian-French digital platform 

A digital platform will be established within the Russian-French civil society forum Trianon Dialogue, she went on. 

"It is very important for us to hold meetings not only at the presidential and ministerial level but also to involve civil society and the youth," she said. "That is why the presidents decided to set up the Trianon Dialogue civil society forum. It should stretch further than mere meetings and seminars - we want to establish a digital platform that will help participants maintain direct contacts."

Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to Paris on May 29. His talks with French President Emmanuel Macron focused on bilateral relations, cooperation on the Syrian settlement, anti-terror efforts and other international issues. Addressing a news conference after the talks, Macron said it would be right to promote dialogue between the two countries’ civil societies. He suggested a French-Russian civil society forum be set up to give possibilities for contacts between the two countries’ youth, businessmen and people of science.

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