The Daily Telegraph
Putin ‘wishes Le Pen good luck’ ahead of French election
VLADIMIR PUTIN is said to have wished Marine Le Pen “good luck” in a surprise meeting between the Russian president and the French far-Right leader a month before she runs in presidential elections.
Ms Le Pen, the Front National leader, will regard the meeting in Moscow as a coup for her foreign policy credentials after previously failing to arrange meetings with any world leaders bar those from far-Right parties.
Ludovic de Danne, Ms Le Pen’s international adviser who took part in the meeting with Mr Putin, told Reuters: “He wished her good luck for the presidential election. We felt they understood each other – they were on the same wavelength.”
Ms Le Pen is polling to reach the runoff in France’s presidential election on May 7 but is predicted to lose to independent centrist Emmanuel Macron.
The Russian president said Moscow could meet any French politician it wanted and that Ms Le Pen represented “quite a fast-growing element of European political forces”, according to his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“Of course I know that the election campaign in France is actively developing,” Mr Putin added.
“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.”
It came despite allegations by US intelligence agencies that Russia tried to interfere in the US presidential election to help Donald Trump win.
Russia has denied trying to influence the US vote, and has also dismissed allegations that Kremlin-funded media outlets are spreading “fake news” in an attempt to interfere in the French presidential race.
After the meeting, Ms Le Pen said she would reflect on how to swiftly lift European Union sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis if elected. Russia and France should unite to fight global terrorism, she added.
“With Donald Trump to the West, and Vladimir Putin to the East, Marine Le Pen clearly appears to be the least isolated of the presidential candidates,” said Nicolas Bay, Front National’s secretary general.