Putin congratulates new French president in call

Gladys Abbott
May 19, 2017

The first cabinet meeting will take place on Thursday.

Emmanuel Macron's election as French president was the best news Canada could have hoped for, particularly regarding free trade, Canada's ambassador to France said Thursday.

Visiting Berlin on Monday, Macron "did not push for major, ambitious reforms (of the EU) because he knows the chancellor can not deliver until the elections in September", said Judy Dempsey of the Carnegie Europe think-tank.

Asked during a joint news conference if she was anxious that Macron's push for a "Buy European Act" could undermine the established order of free and open trade, Merkel said: "In trade relations, for example, I see this element of reciprocity, this is something I can very well imagine".

(AP Photo/Francois Mori, Pool).

Jean-Yves Le Drian, outgoing Socialist defence minister and a close friend of ex-President Francois Hollande, was named foreign minister and minister for Europe.

Reporters without Borders denounced the new French government's "concerning signal to the press".

Meanwhile, tensions have arisen over Macron's policies about media access, recalling similar conflicts over the coverage of Donald Trump's presidency in the U.S.

"In no case the Elysee must decide those of us who are entitled or not to cover a visit, whatever the theme is", the letter stated.

The visit to Berlin continued a tradition of French presidents making their first foreign trip to Germany.

"Never, in France, has the extreme right done so well", he said about support for Marine Le Pen, who finished with 34 per cent of the vote in the presidential runoff on May 7.

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The populist Ms Le Pen said her National Front party is now the only "true opposition" for June legislative elections.

"First we need to work on what we want to change, and then if it turns out it needs a treaty change, then we're prepared to do that", she said.

Although he won the May 7 election against National Front candidate Marine Le Pen with 66% of the vote, his party was only founded a year ago and has never held a single National Assembly seat. She is scheduled to give a television interview on Thursday night and an announcement is expected by week's end.

A survey from the Harris Interactive group showed that 32 percent of people planned to vote for Macron's Republique en Marche (REM) in the first round of parliamentary elections on June 11.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, 69, who led France's military operations overseas as former President Francois Hollande's defense minister, will stay on in Macron's government as foreign minister and also be in charge of European affairs.

In Berlin, Mr Macron declined to answer a question about his new prime minister, only saying the choice of Mr Philippe is part of the new political landscape he is promoting.

The statement said the presidents agreed to "jointly work on current worldwide and regional issues, including the fight against terrorism". The statement added that the have voiced readiness to develop "traditionally friendly" economic, politic.

The Kremlin said the two leaders have "agreed to work jointly on acute global and regional issues, including the fight against terrorism".

During the Cabinet meeting, Macron called on his ministers to have the "necessary discipline" and "solidarity" despite their sometimes stark political differences, government spokesman Christophe Castaner said.

The new French government, which was appointed Wednesday, is a carefully calibrated balance of 22 prominent and unknown figures from the left and the right, half of them women. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says the position is one of "progress" and unity.

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