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Economy

Macron in Moscow: France wants Russia sanctions lifted by mid-year

media Russian President Vladimir Putin Reuters/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Sputnik/Kremlin

The French economy minister has announced that France will assist in lifting sanctions imposed by the West on Russia by summer this year. Emmanuel Macron is in Moscow heading a French delegation at a session of the French-Russian council on economy, finance, commerce and trade matters.

Taking place on Monday, for the first time since 2013, the talks will focus on a number of joint projects in energy, space, transport and other spheres, according to the French embassy.

"The objective we all share is to provide the lifting of sanctions by the summer, as far as the peace process in south-eastern Ukraine is respected," Macron said, referring to the conflict in the Ukrainian provinces closest to Russia, which saw the US and a number of European countries, including France, impose economic restrictions on Russia.

The West and Kiev have accused Russia of arming the separatist insurgency in the east and sending regular troops across the border, claims that Moscow has denied.

In December last year the European Union prolonged its sanctions against Russia – originally imposed in August 2014 – for another six months.

Contact groups have met several times in Minsk, Belarus’ capital, with the participation of French President François Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin, resulting in the so-called "Minsk agreements".

However, a ceasefire agreed in September remains fragile.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday held out the prospect of lifting the sanctions if the Minsk agreement is implemented in full.

"With effort and with bona-fide legitimate intent to solve the problem on both sides, it is possible in these next months to find those Minsk agreements implemented," Kerry said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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