Paris, France. The new French President Emmanuel Macron has reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to better relations between the two countries. Both nations have had difficult relations after disagreements over Ukraine, sanctions, and migrant policies.

The Kremlin was widely seen as backing Macron’s far-right opponent Marine Le Pen, with Putin hosting her during a surprise visit to Moscow in the run-up to the election. But now a new chapter starts, as both parties approach world events with a fresh slate.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin and new French leader Emmanuel Macron discussed improving poor ties between Paris and Moscow in their first phone conversation, the Kremlin said Thursday.

Both leaders expressed “the mutual readiness to develop the traditionally friendly Russian-French relations in the political, trade, economic, cultural, humanitarian and other spheres,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The statement said the presidents agreed to “jointly work on current international and regional issues, including the fight against terrorism.” After Macron’s election earlier this month, Putin urged him to bridge deep rifts and work together in the face of the “growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism”.

Putin and Macron also stressed the importance of further cooperation to end the three-year war in eastern Ukraine, with France playing a key role alongside Germany as a mediator in ongoing frank and earnest talks.

Relations in recent years between Russia and France are currently strained as Paris has been an active part of Americas punitive sanctions response to Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine and has participated in NATOs buildup on Russia’s border, escalating concerns among French citizens looking for better Russian-French ties.

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