News ID: 257909
Published: 0227 GMT August 27, 2019

Macron pushes outreach to Russia, offers ‘balancing’ role

Macron pushes outreach to Russia, offers ‘balancing’ role

French president: Iran move could calm tension

French President Emmanuel Macron said it’s time for Europe to reach out to Russia — to keep it in the Western fold, check its global ambitions and avoid being caught in the middle of a new Cold War.

Macron didn’t say outright whether he wants to lift EU sanctions imposed over Russia’s reunification with Crimea, the heart of East-West tension for the past five years. But he said new sanctions “are not in our interest,” AP reported.

In a sweeping diplomatic speech Tuesday after hosting the G7 summit , Macron sketched out a role for France as a “balancing power” — between Russia and its rivals, between the US and Iran, between rich and poor countries.

“Pushing Russia from Europe is a profound strategic error,” Macron said. Europe’s “weaknesses and mistakes” have helped lead Russia to boost its alliance with China and revive its influence in Syria, Libya and around Africa.

“It’s not in our interest to be weak and guilty, to forget all our disagreements and to embrace each other again,” he said, but insisted, “The European Continent will never be stable, will never be in security, if we don’t pacify and clarify our relations with Russia.”

Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin met last week and vowed to give a new boost to peace talks with Ukraine. But the two disagreed on other issues, including Syria and Russia’s handling of opposition protests.


‘Fragile’ efforts

Macron is trying to revive France’s global clout on multiple fronts, with mixed success.

After inviting the Iranian foreign minister as a surprise guest to the Group of Seven summit in France, Macron said Tuesday that his risky diplomatic maneuver helped create “the possible conditions of a useful meeting.”

Macron acknowledged that his efforts to bring Iran and the US together are “fragile” but says he still sees a “possible path” to rapprochement after decades of conflict.

He expressed hope at the G7 on Monday that US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani could meet within weeks.


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