Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin hold talks at Bregancon fort in southern France

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French President Emmanuel Macron held talks Monday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at his Bregancon summer residence in southern France. (Reuters)
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French President Emmanuel Macron held talks Monday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at his Bergancon summer residence in southern France. (AFP)
Updated 19 August 2019
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Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin hold talks at Bregancon fort in southern France

  • Macron to urge Kremlin to help end the conflict in Ukraine
  • French president also wants Putin to respect ceasefire in Syria's Idlib

BORMES-LES-MIMOSAS, France: French President Emmanuel Macron held talks Monday with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at his Bregancon summer residence in southern France, seeking to press the Kremlin to help end the conflict in Ukraine and respect freedom of speech and fair elections in Russia.

Macron also urged Putin to respect the ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, following air strikes in the region and an attack on a Turkish army convoy on Monday.

"I must express our profound worry about the situation in Idlib. The population in Idlib is living under bombs, children are being killed. It's vital that the ceasefire agreed in Sochi is put into practice," Macron told Putin.

Macron was hosting Putin at his summer retreat of the Bregancon fortress on the Mediterranean coast, just days before he hosts world leaders including US President Donald Trump for the August 24-26 Group of Seven (G7) summit in Biarritz.

Macron said he hoped the two leaders would make progress towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine after its new president offered an olive branch to Putin.

"We called this summer for freedom of protest, freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and the freedom to run in elections, which should be fully respected in Russia like for any member of the Council of Europe," Macron told a joint news conference ahead of their meeting.

"Because I believe in a European Russia."

Moscow has been rocked by weekly protests for more than a month after the authorities barred opposition candidates from running in an election for the city's legislature in September.

Macron and Putin said they would also discuss how to de-escalate tensions over Iran.

Putin told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that he saw no alternative to the "Normandy" format for heads of state talks on the Ukraine crisis, but stopped short on Monday of signing up to a new summit on the subject.

He said phone conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy had given him cautious grounds for optimism, but stressed that he believed that any meeting aimed at resolving the Ukraine crisis should yield tangible results.

(With Agencies)


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 22 September 2019
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India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.