- POSTED: 28 May 2014 08:11
French President Francois Hollande announced that he will hold "face to face" talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on June 6, with the Ukraine crisis high on the agenda.
BRUSSELS: French President Francois Hollande announced on Tuesday that he will hold "face to face" talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on June 6, with the Ukraine crisis high on the agenda.
The meeting between the two leaders will take place in northern France, during events to mark 70 years since the World War II Normandy landings, Hollande told reporters in Brussels after an European Union (EU) summit.
"I have invited Mr Putin on June 6" and "We will have discussions" notably on the situation in Ukraine, the French leader said.
Hollande said he believed Putin would "now recognise" the new president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, who was elected Sunday, and "ensure there is a de-escalation" in Ukraine.
On Saturday Putin said he was ready to meet with Hollande at next month's events to mark the D-Day anniversary, despite the tensions over Ukraine.
"From what I understand the president of France wants such a separate meeting to discuss issues related to bilateral ties and the international questions of the day," Putin told reporters in Saint Petersburg then.
"Of course I am open to any such discussions. If the French president's agenda allows it, I would be happy to meet with him to talk about these issues of mutual interest," Putin said when asked by AFP about the possibility of talks.
Putin will be attending the ceremonies on June 6 to commemorate the Normandy landings that marked the beginning of the liberation of continental Europe from the Nazis in World War II.
His trip comes amid the worse standoff in the West's relations with Russia since the end of the Cold War, over Moscow's annexation of Crimea and its alleged backing of pro-Russian rebels who have declared independence in eastern Ukraine.
The White House said earlier this month that US President Barack Obama had no plans to meet one-on-one with Putin when they both attend the anniversary events in France.
Those ceremonies will take place the day after a meeting in Brussels of the leaders of the G7 leading world powers - of which Russia is not a member.
The G8 grouping, which included Moscow, was suspended after the annexation of Crimea.