France’s Marine Le Pen urges end to Russia sanctions

Russian president Vladimir Putin has met France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in Moscow, saying she represents a “fast-growing element” of European politics.

Mr Putin defended the meeting – a coup for Ms Le Pen – saying that he was not seeking to influence France’s election.

Ms Le Pen has garnered widespread support at home but her extreme views have deterred most foreign leaders.

Russia was accused of meddling in the US election in support of Donald Trump.

“Of course I know that the election campaign in France is actively developing,” said Mr Putin.

“We do not want to influence events in any way, but we reserve the right to talk to representatives of all the country’s political forces,” he added.

Ms Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front (FN) party, called during her visit to Moscow for the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia, arguing that they were “counterproductive”.

When Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, the US and EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on individuals and companies linked to Russia’s ruling elite.

“I believe that barring parliamentarians from speaking to each other, working together is an infringement of democratic rights,” Interfax quoted Ms Le Pen.

Speaking at Russia’s lower house of parliament, the Duma, she vowed to push for the so-called “blacklists” of targeted individuals to be abolished.

Ms Le Pen has previously stated her approval of Russia’s annexation of of Crimea.

She also said that Russia and France should work together to save the world from globalism and Islamic fundamentalism.

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