Russian leader Vladimir Putin met with French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in Moscow on Friday and said his government does not want to interfere in next month’s election.
US authorities have accused the Russian government of using cyberattacks to meddle its presidential election last year. The Kremlin has adamantly denied those allegations.
Putin told Le Pen that Russia is not trying to exert any influence on the French race, “but we retain the right to communicate with all representatives of all political forces of the country, as our partners do in Europe and the United States,” according to a Kremlin transcript.
He said it was interesting to discuss development of bilateral relations with the far-right French candidate, whom he called a representative of a rising movement in European politics.
Le Pen noted Russia’s role in the fight against international terrorism and called for closer French collaboration, saying “only together can we overcome this scourge.”
Le Pen met with Russian lawmakers earlier in the day, including attending a meeting of the lower house of parliament’s international affairs committee upon an invitation by the committee’s chairman Leonid Slutsky.
Le Pen, who leads the National Front party, said the West’s poor relations with Russia are unjustified.
Russia and France should work together in the face of two great challenges – globalization and Islamic fundamentalism, Le Pen said.