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27 May 2015

French National Front leader Marine Le Pen visits Moscow

Le Pen said relations between France and Russia "could change in the middle of 2017 when Marine Le Pen is elected president".

Moscow (AFP) - The leader of France's pro-White National Front party Marine Le Pen visited Moscow for high-level talks Tuesday, amid fears the Kremlin is courting radical politicians across Europe.

Le Pen met parliament speaker Sergei Naryshkin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, during a low-key visit months after her party in November came under fire for taking out a nine-million-euro ($9.8-million) loan with a Russian bank.

Russia has sought to cosy up to European politicians, including Le Pen and left-wing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who have criticised the European Union for imposing sanctions on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.

After meeting Naryshkin, Le Pen said that the French government was "very influenced" by the United States, which she added "played an important role in passing (EU) sanctions against Russia."

Le Pen -- who met Naryshkin last April -- said she was happy to "regularly exchange opinions with Sergei Naryshkin on important topics," cited by TASS state news agency in comments translated into Russian.

"We often have a similar vision when we analyse the situation."

She said she and Naryshkin discussed topics including "the crisis in Ukraine, the worsening situation with the Islamic State group, the danger of terrorist attacks and the financial situation in the world."

Le Pen said relations between France and Russia "could change in the middle of 2017 when Marine Le Pen is elected president".

Naryshkin at the meeting congratulated Le Pen on her party's shock victory in last May's European elections in France.

Naryshkin said Le Pen's reforms to the party founded by her father "matched the time and the spirit of contemporary France," the parliament's website said.

Le Pen's team did not announce the visit.

The Duma lower house of parliament on Monday announced the meeting on its website, initially saying it would be shown live on television, but press was later barred.