France’s new President, Emmanuel Macron, welcomed his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the Chateau de Versailles on Monday at 2:15 pm for their first meeting, which covered a series of topics, the most important of which was the situation in Syria and Ukraine.
After a warm but perfunctory handshake on the red carpet in the marble courtyard of the chateau, which exhibited none of the drama of Mr Macron’s meeting last week with President Trump, the two heads of state enjoyed an extended luncheon before appearing at a joint press conference.
Vladimir Putin had previously called on Macron to “overcome mutual distrust”, in a message of congratulations send the day after his election, an election in which the Russian state has been accused of interfering.
At the G7 summit in Sicily at the weekend, Mr Macron had said: “It is essential to talk to Russia because there are a number of international issues that will not be resolved without a tough dialogue with them.”
The choice of Versailles for the summit venue is no accident. The two presidents are meeting after 300 years of Franco-Russian diplomacy that started under Czar Peter the Great.