17:33 GMT20 January 2021
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    French presidential hopeful Francois Fillon said the country's status demanded conducting a global and independent diplomacy.

    PARIS (Sputnik) — The next president of France will face a serious challenge of restoring relations not only with Russia but also with the United States, Francois Fillon, the winner of the first round of The Republicans party primaries, said on Thursday.

    "The next president will have a difficult task: to restart open and strong relationships not only with Russians but also with the Americans. We have grown distant from each other, but we need them on all the issues," Fillon wrote in an article published in Le Monde newspaper.

    He called on abandoning the "schizophrenic" policy toward Russia, consisting in imposing more and more sanctions against Moscow, while asking it for help to fight terrorism.

    "The status of France demands it to conduct global and independent diplomacy. Our diplomacy, so hardheaded during the US invasion in Iraq in 2003, has become submissive. To Brussels. To the United States. To UNESCO, where we were unable to say "no" to a resolution, rewriting the historical reality of Jerusalem. And even, often to the Gulf states, whose influence on our national territory raises questions," Fillon said.

    He noted that the head of state should have his own point of view, be able to take responsibility and discuss the foreign policy issues with all partners, including those who had a different opinion.

    On November 24, Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe, another ex-prime minister of France, emerged as the winners of the first round of the Republicans primaries with the former securing 44 percent of center-right voters while the latter, long thought to be the front runner, ended with just 28 percent.

    Former President Nicolas Sarkozy finished with the third result and thus was eliminated from the race. Sarkozy has already endorsed Fillon, who served in his government in 2007-2012.

    The second and final round of The Republicans primaries between Fillon and Juppe is set for November 27. The first round of presidential elections in France is scheduled for April 23, 2017.

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    Francois Fillon, France, Russia, US
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