The Putin-Macron handshake the world was waiting for

French President Emmanuel Macron did not mince his words during his first meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on gay rights, chemical weapons and alleged cyberattacks.

French President Emmanuel Macron, second from left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, third from left, and Director of Russian Hermitage Museum Mikhail Piotrovsky, center, watch an exhibition marking 300 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries, at the Grand Trianon palace, in Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday, May 29, 2017. Putin emphasized the need for closer co-operation between Russian Federation and France, two nuclear-armed permanent members of the UN Security Council. "When I say things once, I don't usually repeat myself", Macron added.

"Our absolute priority is the fight against terrorism and the eradication of terrorist groups and Daesh in particular", he said, using an alternate name for the Daesh group that has claimed several deadly attacks in France.

Macron further said that France and Russian Federation could work together towards a settlement in Syria noting that "it is necessary to seek an inclusive political solution".

Putin said he had outlined Russia's position on Syria to Macron and that terrorism can not be defeated by dismantling a country's statehood.

He said any use of chemical weapons in Syria - where Russian Federation is propping up the government of President Bashar Assad - is a "red line" for France and would be met by "reprisals" and an "immediate riposte" from France.

"We spoke about the Ukrainian crisis, spoke about the possibilities of settling the Syrian problem and, naturally, we also touched upon such a complex and, in my mind, risky situation as the situation with the nuclear problem in North Korea and with the North Korean missile program", the Russian leader said.

Past indications have suggested that Putin wanted Macron's far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, to become the next President of France. He also shrugged off allegations that Russian hackers infiltrated Macron's campaign.

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Macron said the Russian media organizations are "organs of influence and propaganda" and "behaved like structures of the government".

RT shrugged off Macron's accusations.

He confirmed that Mr Putin had agreed to a "very regular monitoring" of the curtailing of gay rights in Chechnya, where hundreds of gay men were rounded up, sent to prison and tortured.

Trump made a similar remark last September during a presidential debate.

France helped spearhead the EU's economic sanctions on Russia over the seizure of Crimea and Russian backing for insurgents in the east of the former Soviet republic.

Putin canceled a visit in October after Macron's predecessor, Francois Hollande, said he would see him only for talks on Syria.

Macron said he spoke to Putin about lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender rights in Chechnya and about the rights of embattled non-governmental organizations in Russian Federation, vowing he would be "constantly vigilant" on these issues. That means that we want Assad to go away but not necessarily the regime to change.

Monday's visit offered Putin and Macron a chance to reset a relationship that got off on a less-than-ideal foot during Macron's presidential campaign.

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