March 29, 2018 / 6:20 AM / 5 months ago

France's Macron still due to visit Russia in May: Le Drian

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron will still visit Russia in May as it remains important to maintain “frank” talks with Moscow despite accusations of Russian involvement in a nerve agent attack in Britain, said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

FILE PHOTO: France's President Emmanuel Macron attends a news conference at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

“For the time being, the trip is still indicated, yes, for the moment the trip is still scheduled,” Le Drian told RTL radio on Thursday.

Macron is due to attend the Saint Petersbourg economic forum in May, even though diplomatic links between Russia and the West have hit a low in the wake of a chemicals weapon attack in March on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal.

Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve toxin that had been left on the front door of their home in England, British counter-terrorism police said on Wednesday.

After the first known offensive use of a chemical weapon on European soil since World War Two, Britain blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attempted assassination and the West has expelled around 130 Russian diplomats.

Russia has denied any involvement in the attack and has said it suspects the British secret services of using the Novichok nerve agent, which was developed by the Soviet military, to frame Russia and stoke anti-Russian hysteria.

(This story corrects Le Drian’s title)

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Sarah White

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