Journal du Dimanche has quoted French President Emmanuel Macron as saying he would like to maintain a "historic and strategic dialogue" with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Signaling his readiness to "align Russia with Europe and not to allow Russia to retire into itself," Macron alleged that "Putin is dreaming of his country reemerging as a great power."
He stressed that he perceives Russia as "part of Europe, even if Russia has almost never known the democracy in which we live."
Iran's Expanding Clout
Separately, he pointed to significant changes on the global stage that have taken place over the past ten years, including Iran's expanding clout in the Middle East, a region which Macron said should not be destabilized under the pretext of fighting Tehran.
The French President said that during his phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he described Iran as a country "with dismal behavior but also a great people to talk to."
Macron's interview came after his telephone talks with Putin, which were followed by Macron reiterating on his Twitter page that the two leaders should keep working on the problematic issues in the Middle East, including Iran, which Macron tweeted "must never obtain a nuclear weapon."
The Kremlin said in a statement that in a telephone conversation, Putin and Macron called for the preservation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, as well as stressed the necessity of its strict implementation.
The Elysee Palace, for its part, said that President Macron expressed hope during phone talks with Putin on Monday that Moscow would play a significant role in the settlement of a number of challenging issues in the Middle East.
During his visit to Washington late last month, Macron tried to dissuade US President Donald Trump from withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.
Since his election campaign in 2016, Trump criticized the JCPOA as "the worst deal ever", slamming Iran for alleged non-compliance with the agreement and threatening to scrap it if the deal's alleged flaws are not dealt with.
However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly underscored that Tehran has been adhering to its JCPOA-related commitments. On April 23, the nuclear watchdog's chief coordinator Cornel Seruta reiterated that "Iran was subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime."
On July 14, 2015, the EU, Iran and the P5+1 group, including Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany, signed the JCPOA which stipulates a step-by-step lifting of anti-Iran sanctions in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program and allowing inspections to ensure that the nature of this program is purely peaceful.