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    French Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives for a meeting on November 15, 2015 at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris

    French Foreign Minister to Arrive in Moscow on Tuesday for Meeting With Lavrov

    © AFP 2017/ STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN
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    French Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian will arrive in Moscow on Tuesday and hold a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov and Le Drian will discuss the most urgent bilateral issues as well as measures aimed at stepping up counterterror cooperation and conflict settlement in the world's hotspots, including Syria, Ukraine and Libya.

    Lavrov and Le Drian are also expected to mull the UN Security Council agenda.

    Le Drian’s visit comes following the agreements on intensifying Russian-French cooperation that were reached by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in French Versailles in late May.

    Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said on May 31 that following the talks between Putin and Macron, Le Drian and Lavrov had discussed the possibility of holding a meeting to address, among others, issues such as terrorism and the Syrian crisis. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksey Meshkov informed Sputnik on June 14 about the date scheduled for Le Drian’s visit to Moscow.

    The first phone talk between Lavrov and Le Drian was held on May 26 when the ministers discussed then-upcoming visit of Putin to France at Macron’s request along with bilateral and international issues.

    France is among Russia’s leading partners in Europe and worldwide regardless of the fact that France joined the EU restrictive anti-Russia measures over Ukraine in 2014.

    The two countries maintain intensive cooperation in the political, economic, trade and cultural spheres.

    In late 2016, Russian-French trade turnover increased by 14.1 percent compared to 2015 and reached $13.3 billion.

    France is also among leading European investors operating in the Russian market and at the end of the third quarter of 2016, $12.8 billion worth of direct French investment had accumulated in Russia, with the respective direct Russian investment in France totaling $2.8 billion. Over 500 companies with French capital operate in Russia and in various sectors of the national economy. French companies boast the strongest positions in the fuel and energy sector (Total, Alstom and EDF Group), the automotive industry (Peugeot-Citroen and Renault), pharmaceuticals (Sanofi Aventis and Servier) and the food industry (Danone and Bonduelle).

    The Russian-French Commission on issues of bilateral cooperation (IGC), at the level of heads of government and the Council for economic, financial, industrial and trade issues (CEFIC) are the main agencies for inter-governmental cooperation between the countries.

    The CEFIC is the main working body of the IGC. The CEFIC has 12 specialized working groups that are responsible for bilateral trade and economic cooperation. The CEFIC members meet regularly in Russia and France on a rotating basis. The first CEFIC meeting was held in 1992. CEFIC resumed its work after a long halt in January 2016 and held its latest meeting on March 14 in the Russian capital.

    Russia and France maintain diverse cultural-humanitarian ties. On October 19, 2016, the Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center was opened in Paris in the presence of Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

    The year 2017 marks the 300th anniversary of Russian Emperor Peter the Great’s visit to France. A number of events, including an exhibition at Versailles visited by the Russian President, prepared in cooperation with the Russian State Hermitage Museum, are timed to coincide with this date.

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    Sergei Lavrov, Jean-Yves Le Drian, France, Russia
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