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Macron, Putin to Talk Iran Deal, Syria 05/24 06:22

   Having failed to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to stay in the Iran 
nuclear accord, French President Emmanuel Macron is reaching out to Russian 
President Vladimir Putin.

   PARIS (AP) -- Having failed to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to stay 
in the Iran nuclear accord, French President Emmanuel Macron is reaching out to 
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

   Macron heads to St. Petersburg on Thursday amid deep differences with Putin 
over Syria, Ukraine and alleged Russian meddling abroad. But both men want to 
salvage the Iranian nuclear deal.

   Macron's aides insist he is not cozying up to Putin, or seeking to pivot 
away from France's longstanding alliance with the U.S. in favor of one with 
Russia and China.

   Rather, they say Macron wants to keep a dialogue open to help solve world 
crises. And France wants Russia to use its influence with Iran to ensure it 
respects its nuclear commitments despite Trump's decision.

   And the Iran issue marks the first time that Russia, France and Germany 
agree on such a major matter in years.

   "When points of view coincide, it can only mean that the countries edge at 
least a bit closer to each other," Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri 
Ushakov, said earlier this month.

   France and Russia can't save the nuclear accord on their own but are trying 
to find ways to keep it alive despite the threat of new U.S. sanctions on those 
doing business with Iran.

   For the Kremlin, the EU pledge to protect its companies doing business with 
Iran from prospective U.S. sanctions sets an important precedent of the 
European resistance to the U.S. pressure.

   Macron and Putin will also discuss economic ties despite sanctions over 
Russia's annexation of Crimea. They will meet with Russian and French 
executives at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Russia's leading business 
event and a showcase for Putin.

   Macron and Putin will also discuss Syria and Ukraine though neither side 
expects much progress. Instead they will focus on safe, lower-level ties and 
sign economic, cultural, university and sports agreements.

   Macron will later pay homage to victims of the Nazi siege of Leningrad, St. 
Petersburg's name during the Soviet era, and attend a performance at the 
Mariinsky Theater performance in honor of Marseillais choreographer Maurice 
Petipa.

   One question will hang in the air during Macron's two-day trip: Whether or 
not he will go to Russia when it hosts the World Cup starting next month, or 
stay away to protest the poisoning of an ex-Russian agent in Britain. Macron's 
aides said the decision still hasn't been made.


(KA)

 
 
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