France's Le Pen meets Putin in Moscow

The French presidential candidates are depicted

France's Le Pen meets Putin in Moscow

After the meeting, Ms Le Pen said she would reflect on how to swiftly lift European Union sanctions imposed on Russian Federation over the Ukraine crisis if elected.

Recent opinion polls in France put Ms Le Pen neck-and-neck in the first round with centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, with Mr Macron winning the run-off.

"Of course I know that the election campaign in France is actively developing", said Putin.

In 2014, Le Pen's National Front received a $9.7 million loan from Russian bank FCRB, which had raised concerns over Moscow's potential influence on her and her party.

"I have always been opposed to these sanctions that I thought were profoundly unfair and utterly counterproductive", she told reporters.

"We by no means want to influence the current events, but we reserve the right to communicate with all representatives of all political forces of the country, as do our partners in Europe and the United States for example", Interfax news agency quoted Putin as telling Le Pen.

French foreign minister Jean Marc-Ayrault has threatened "retaliatory measures" if Russia interferes in the electoral process in favour of Le Pen, who is widely perceived to be the anti-European "chaos candidate", and vows to recognise the Russian annexation of Crimea if elected. It was unclear whether she would meet Putin or senior government officials. He did not respond when asked whether she would meet President Vladimir Putin. Mr Danne said: "Macron-Merkel it's the declining establishment, Le Pen and Putin represent the freedom of the people, cooperation in a multi-polar world".

Russian support for Le Pen appears to have similar roots to the well-publicised backing of Donald Trump.

"I completely agree with you that only by joining our efforts we will manage to fight effectively the threat of terrorism", Putin said addressing Le Pen. But past year, the bank went bust, and since then, Russian deposit agency has been trying legal ways to recover the bank's loans.

Shortly after meeting Putin, Le Pen held a press conference at a Moscow hotel.

The party on Friday dismissed the possibility of seeking further funding from a Russian bank.

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