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'Political Climate' Warming Between Paris, Moscow

© Sputnik / Yuriy Lashov / Go to the mediabankPanorama of the International Children's Center Artek in the Crimea.
Panorama of the International Children's Center Artek in the Crimea. - Sputnik International
French Foreign Minister subjected local lawmakers' visit to Crimea to severe criticism what Paris deems an occupied Crimea.

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has toned down his criticism of local lawmakers' visit to what Paris deems an occupied Crimea, in a sign of warming relations between the two countries, a senior French politician Thierry Mariani said Thursday.

A group of dozen lawmakers led by French parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee member Mariani will visit Crimea on July 28-31, after travelling there last summer. The French Foreign Ministry officially protested the visit.

"The reaction of the incumbent [Foreign] Minister of France to this visit was a low-key reaction," Mariani said at a press conference in Moscow. "I believe that the political climate between our countries is evolving, improving."

The Russian capital was the delegation’s first destination on the way to the Black Sea peninsula. Mariani held a press conference after meeting Russian parliament speaker Sergei Naryshkin in the lower-house State Duma.

Russia's historical southern region of Crimea rejoined Russia after a 2014 referendum, which showed that 96 percent of the population was supportive of the move. Kiev and its Western allies called it an annexation and imposed sanctions on the peninsula.

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