05:56 GMT +316 February 2019
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    French presidential candidate for the political movement En Marche (On the Move) Emmanuel Macron (C) smells and tastes white wine during a visit at the Paris' international agriculture fair (Salon de l'agriculture) on March 1, 2017 in Paris

    Macron Stresses Importance of Continuing Dialogue With Russian Civil Society

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    PARIS (Sputnik) - French President Emmanuel Macron said it was necessary to continue dialogue with Russia's intellectual community and civil society.

    "We will open evening libraries and weekend libraries in cities and villages in order to allow everyone to relax through culture. I am glad that we can have this tie with the Russian people. But, taking into account the international context, I decided not to visit the official stand of Russia… it is important to continue the dialogue with the intellectual community, writers, civil society of Russia, which bring strength to these people… We should respect and protect them," Macron said on Twitter on Friday.

    Earlier in the day, Macron refused to visit the Russian exhibition stand at the Paris Book Fair amid the evolving scandal surrounding the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.

    About 40 writers from Russia represent Moscow at the Paris Book Fair, which opened on Thursday and will run through Monday.

    READ MORE: Macron Vows to Announce France's Measures Against Russia After Skripal Poisoning

    Russia has faced a series of baseless accusations over the past two weeks in relation to the alleged poisoning attack of ex-officer of Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the United Kingdom. On Monday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of the involvement in the attempted murder, issuing a de-facto ultimatum to Russia to provide an explanation for the incident by the end of Tuesday.

    Western leaders, including Macron, have joined the UK accusations and agreed to coordinate their actions over this issue.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has strongly denied all the allegations and delivered a note, requesting a joint investigation into the case, to the UK Foreign Office. The proposal was ignored by the UK leadership, while May declared a package of anti-Russian measures, including the expulsion of the Russian diplomats from the country and suspension of bilateral contacts between London and Moscow.


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    civil society, dialogue, Sergei Skripal, Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May, Russia, France