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French President Hollande in bid to boost Caucasus ties amid Ukraine crisis

Published on May 11, 2014 10:04 PM
 
French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he attends a ceremony on May 10, 2014 at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris to mark the abolition of slavery and to pay tribute to the victims of the slave trade. French President Francois Hollande began a three-day visit to the South Caucasus on Sunday, May 11, 2014, as he seeks to bolster European ties on Russia's southern doorstep amid the crisis in Ukraine. -- PHOTO: AFP

BAKU (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande began a three-day visit to the South Caucasus on Sunday as he seeks to bolster European ties on Russia's southern doorstep amid the crisis in Ukraine.

Hollande arrived in the Azerbaijani capital Baku around 6pm (1300 GMT) on Sunday, on the same day separatists in eastern Ukraine held referendums on breaking away from the country.

His visit was unlikely to be welcomed in Moscow, which has long considered the ex-Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia to be in its sphere of influence.

French officials have insisted on playing down the visit, saying it is aimed only at boosting the European Union's relations in the region.

 
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