Macron met Russia's Lavrov to discuss Syria, Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed about the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine in an unannounced meeting, on July 24, 2018.
French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed about the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine in an unannounced meeting, on July 24, 2018.PHOTOS: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - French President Emmanuel Macron held an unannounced meeting on Tuesday (July 24) with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, his office said.

Mr Lavrov was accompanied by Russia's army chief Valery Gerasimov to the Elysee just a few hours after the two met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Foreign Minister, Mr Heiko Maas, in Berlin.

The meeting had been requested by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had spoken with his French counterpart last week, Mr Macron's office said.

On Syria, Moscow raised the subject of the "return of refugees" who had fled to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, as well as Germany.

Paris and Moscow last weekend carried out a joint humanitarian operation at a Syrian rebel enclave taken by regime forces in April. It was the first humanitarian aid mission between Russia and a Western country.

The talks also included discussion of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Elysee said.

Paris and Berlin are both part of a long-stalled peace process in the smouldering Ukraine war, which has claimed 10,000 lives since 2014.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also attended Tuesday's meeting.

Mr Macron's meeting with the Russians came a week after the summit between Mr Putin and US President Donald Trump, where Moscow had proposed cooperation with Washington on the question of Syrian refugees and rebuilding the country.