Trip to bring Macron face-to-face with troops

French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe pose for a family

"Having different political backgrounds will not stop us working intelligently for France, this was the first message the president wanted to convey", government spokesman Christophe Castaner told a news conference.

Macron's office says that the meeting, attended by the country's most senior military and security officials, focused on the operations of French armed forces overseas -mostly in Africa's Sahel region, Iraq and Syria.

The Kremlin says the leaders of Russian Federation and France have discussed possible cooperation on global issues, including the fight against terrorism.

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.

Macron said he discussed the issue this week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Keita praised France for coming to Mali's aid, saying his country "will be eternally grateful to the French people for not abandoning it". France remains under a state of emergency, and under threat from Islamic extremists, since attacks in November 2015 left 130 people dead around Paris.

The divorce process will be "very, very complicated", Merkel said.

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A combination of file photos show Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) at a news conference in Bishkek on February 28, 2017 and French President Emmanuel Macron at a conference in Berlin on May 15, 2017.

"France de facto ensures Europe's security, in Mali and in other theaters of operations".

French President Emmanuel Macron will kick off his Mali visit by holding talks with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. France now has more than 4,000 soldiers in the West African nations of Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania as part of Operation Barkhane, which former French President Francois Hollande said is meant to "wipe out armed terrorist groups" in the Sahel region.

He also will have lunch with troops, tour a surgical unit, have a briefing on military operations and give a speech to French forces.

Macron will make a visit on Friday to a French military base in Mali, a country where multiple extremist groups pose a growing danger to the region.

Some French political reporters said that Macron's office called their media organization to designate specific journalists who will be able to cover Macron's first trip outside Europe, scheduled in Mali on Friday. "I am not a promoter of the mutualisation of old debt" within the eurozone, he reassured his audience, though he left open the question of future debt."Whether Germany will treat Mr. Macron as an equal or will Macron play second fiddle to his German counterpart will depend on the French President's capacity to deliver on his promise to modernise the French economy by improving its institutions and ignite growth", Iakov Frizis, an economist at the Warsaw-based Centre for Social and Economic Research told The World Weekly.If Mr. Macron can not make headway with his domestic reforms, Ms. Merkel's magic may start to dwindle.

Most of the terrorists in the region trace their origins to al-Qaida's North Africa branch.

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