EU in focus as French presidential candidates face off

The two candidates who get the most votes will then face off in a run-off election on May 7.

Conservative candidate Fillon and far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have closed the gap substantially in the last two weeks. Unless Fillon manages a comeback, France will have its first president ever to come from a non-establishment party. He proposes "disobeying treaties from the moment we take power" and negotiating new European Union rules - followed by a referendum on whether France should leave the bloc it helped found.

"As we wait for more definite information, I think we need to attend to our duties as citizens: no panic, we shouldn't interrupt our democratic process", Melenchon said.

Voters will cast ballots in the first round on Sunday of what has turned into the most unpredictable French election in memory as the gap between four frontrunners narrows.

French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron warned France to rise above the fear of terrorism.

He said "the whole of Europe is targeted because it represents the values and ideals of peace".

He said Obama expressed his deep attachment to France and the importance of the relationship between the two countries. Obama called Macron to wish him luck but not to issue an endorsement, according to Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis. The French election has come down to a race between a centrist moderate willing to keep borders (reasonably) open versus a far-right populist who would pull the country out of global treaties and try to stop all immigration into France.

President Francois Hollande said: "We shall be of the utmost vigilance, especially in relation to the election".

French presidential campaign posters are displayed in Marnes-la-Coquette, outside Paris, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

German police arrest suspect in Borussia Dortmund bus attack
Two people required medical treatment after the attack, with Borussia Dortmund centre-back Marc Bartra needing wrist surgery. The quarter-final first-leg match, rescheduled for the day after the attack, was won by Monaco amid heightened security.

French police say thieves stole a computer and a police armband from a vehicle used by aides to presidential candidate Francois Fillon.

The theft Tuesday night near Lille airport in northern France is being investigated.

Following the arrests this week of two men suspected of preparing an "imminent violent attack" in Marseilles, Some 50,000 policemen and soldiers will be deployed for the two election rounds, French Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said.

St-Remy-de-Provence, France (CNN) Just days before French voters go to the polls, gunshots rang out on Thursday in Paris' iconic Champs-Elysees.

A French presidential campaign that's been filled with unprecedented twists and turns still has surprises in store heading into Sunday's first-round vote.

National Front's Marine Le Pen was once a fringe candidate, but is now considered a front-runner in Sunday's election.

Francois Fillon won the leadership race, but his campaign became quickly mired in scandal after allegations surfaced earlier this year that he paid his family members hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for jobs they never worked.

Currency traders said short-term players were closing out positions taken in anticipation of euro weakness before the French election, emboldened by the steady stream of polls confirming that centrist Macron would lead returns on Sunday.

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