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Putin phones Macron to bridge deep rifts: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on the phone. (File photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and new French leader Emmanuel Macron have held their first phone conversation in a bid to bridge deep rifts which widened during France's presidential election. 

Moscow appeared to to be backing Macron's far-right opponent Marine Le Pen and alleged cyberattacks on Macron's campaign were linked to Moscow.

However, Putin and Macron on Thursday expressed "the mutual readiness to develop the traditionally friendly Russian-French relations in the political, trade, economic, cultural, humanitarian and other spheres," the Kremlin said. 

The two leaders agreed to "jointly work on current international and regional issues, including the fight against terrorism" and cooperate on ending the three-year war in eastern Ukraine, it added. 

Paris is an active part of the West's campaign to pressure Moscow through sanctions and other means over the Ukraine crisis and a US-led military buildup on Russia's doorsteps. 

After Macron's election victory earlier this month, Putin urged him to work together in the face of the "growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism". 

A French presidency official said Putin had initiated the phone call and congratulated Macron on his election and cabinet appointments.

French President Emmanuel Macron
(File photo)

Traditionally the two countries have had close ties but relations were strained after Paris joined the anti-Russia campaign over the crisis in Ukraine.

The aide to Macron said despite diverging positions on a number of subjects, the two leaders "noted the old and singular relationship between the two countries, which have had 300 years of diplomatic relations." 

"Citing General de Gaulle, President Putin underlined the fact that France and Russia were strong when they were united," the aide said.

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