French president talks to Putin, faces media troubles

Posted May 19, 2017

Terrorism was also on the agenda of his first phone call Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin said in a statement that the two voiced readiness to develop "traditionally friendly" economic, political and cultural ties.

Macron has previously taken a firm stance against Russia's actions in Ukraine and Syria.

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 country remains under a state of emergency, and under threat from Islamic extremists, since deadly November 2015 attacks.

"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.

Led by rightwing Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, it includes a mix of Socialist, centrist and Republicans figures as well as newcomers including an Olympic fencing champion and a star environmentalist.

Castaner, a Socialist who joined Macron's movement previous year, said "our political background will not prevent us to work smartly for France".

Meanwhile, tensions have arisen over Macron's policies about media access, recalling similar conflicts over the coverage of Donald Trump's presidency in the U.S.

"As you've seen during the campaign, the presence of 50 journalists and a dozen (television) cameras can affect direct dialogue and discussions that the president has with the French", he said. "It's not about controlling".

Emmanuel Macron's new government, unveiled yesterday afternoon, lives up to its promise of being balanced. "If that were to happen, it would be unwarranted political interference", Deloire said.

"The world and Europe need more than ever France, and a strong France, which speaks out loudly for freedom and solidarity", Macron declared.

The 39-year-old has been clear he wants to remodel the French economy along the lines of Germany's reforms in the early years of the century, but he has also said he wants to shift the eurozone away from austerity in the medium term.

For interior minister, Macron picked Gerard Collomb, the mayor of Lyon who was one of the first Socialists to support him.

The debut at the centrist leader's Elysee palace offices in central Paris followed publication of an opinion poll suggesting Macron's start-up party, Republic on the Move (REM), will come first in mid-June parliamentary elections; but it remained unclear whether he would win a majority.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, 69, former defence minister under former president Francois Hollande, stays on in Mr Macron's government as foreign minister and Europe minister.