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MOSCOW, February 28 (RIA Novosti) - French President Francois Hollande will discuss bilateral trade and investment as well as the conflict in Syria, during talks with Russia's President Putin on Thursday on the second day of his debut visit to Moscow.
The meeting with Putin will be the second for Hollande since the two leaders took office last year, after he met the Russian leader briefly in Paris in June. It will, however, be Hollande’s first visit to Russia as France’s head of state since he replaced his conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, with whom Putin appeared to have enjoyed a good working relationship.
The French president is optimistic about finding common ground over the situation in Syria, he told Ekho Moskvy radio station in an interview on Thursday translated into Russian.
"I think in the next few weeks we will manage to find a political solution that will stop the conflict escalating," Hollande said.
France and other western states have called for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to step down following a two-year civil war that has claimed the lives of about 70,000 people, according to UN data. Russia has refused to approve sanctions targeting Assad, or recognize the Syrian opposition forces, while France, the former colonial power in Syria, has been a keen supporter of the opposition.
"The Syrian opposition is growing and turning more legitimate," Hollande told Ekho Moskvy.
Hollande said he also wants to discuss the situation in Mali, where French troops have been battling Islamist rebels since last month, and Russia's human rights record.
The French president also said he plans to speak about the future military withdrawal from Afghanistan. “I will ask for help with the withdrawal of French troops and equipment from Afghanistan,” Hollande told the radio station.
The Kremlin reported earlier that the two leaders will discuss industrial, high-tech and humanitarian cooperation.
Hollande’s visit comes weeks after Putin granted a Russian passport to French actor Gerard Depardieu, who renounced his French citizenship after the new socialist government introduced a 75 percent tax rate for annual earnings above $1.3 million.
(Updates earlier version with quotes and more details at 11.40 a.m.)
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- moistAnd suddenly he drops "Assad must go" and..14:59, 28/02/2013..our merc´s (Saudi provided, retarded apes with machine guns) "are winning" which they certainly are not since they resort to terror bombings at random and throat slitting women and children.
Russia gave the western colonial fascist regimes another bloody nose (remember Georgia?)and now they come to Moscow, begging Putin to save their sorry faces. On top of that, report suggests that a good part of these NATO Al-Qaeda merc´s are about to pack up and fight France in Mali, biting the hand that feeds you anyone? Playing with fire might cause irreparable damages...
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