French President Emmanuel Macron said he and Vladimir Putin held "extremely frank" talks Monday, in which he criticized the use of chemical weapons by Syria's Russian-backed government and blasted Russia's state-run news media as "organs of influence and propaganda".
Putin seemed unfazed by Macron's defiant tone, and the two leaders also highlighted areas where they agree, such as the need to eradicate terrorism in Syria and to restart talks with Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France on the situation in Ukraine.
Russian Federation has not interfered in elections in any country, there is no subject for discussion on this issue, Putin said at a news conference after talks in reply to reporters' question.
But Macron said France would show "no weakness" if chemical weapons were used, and would immediately respond.
"I had the chance to bring up how important it is for France to respect all people, all minorities and all sensibilities in a civil society", he said, as Mr Putin stood beside him listening to the translation.
Putin admitted to some differences of opinion in the talks which covered issues including the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, but insisted that Franco-Russian ties withstood "all points of friction".
Following an invitation sent at the beginning of this month by Macron, Putin met with the new president on the 300th anniversary of Tsar Peter the Great's visit to France.
The czar's 1717 visit paved the way for diplomatic, economic and cultural exchanges between France and Russian Federation.
But he also reiterated Russia's view that Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces weren't responsible for a fatal chemical attack in Syria in April. Western sanctions, imposed after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, have been ratcheted up since pro-Russian rebels carved out a breakaway region in eastern Ukraine.
Speaking at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Macron accused the two outlets, Russia Today and Sputnik, of spreading fake news. We've discussed all issues which can help us to understand each other better, Emmanuel Macron said.
Macron said he wanted to strengthen cooperation with Russian Federation in seeking a solution to the Syria conflict.
The Kremlin has denied involvement, and Putin yesterday reiterated that Russian Federation never meddled in the French election.
In one of the sharper moments of a news conference marking a visit by Putin, Macron added that he had already raised the issue with the Kremlin leader in a post-election phone call, going on to say the episode was in the past and would stay there.
Ahead of the visit, Macron told a French weekly that he was not "bothered" by leaders who "think in terms of power dynamics".