Ex-Trump aide Bannon praises Marine Le Pen's campaign

FILE PHOTO: Marine Le Pen, National Front (FN) political party leader, and Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon attend the party's convention in Lille, France, March 10, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

PARIS (Reuters) - Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon on Monday praised French far-right politician Marine Le Pen’s political recovery but said he was in France as an observer of the European elections rather than actively playing a role in Le Pen’s campaign.

Bannon said Le Pen had done well in terms of managing to come back from her defeat to President Emmanuel Macron in France’s 2017 presidential election.

“Her resilience, given that she has managed to come back from her failure in 2017, and the way in which she has given a new identity to the Front National, everything that she has done in terms of leading her party - I find it quite remarkable,” Bannon told BFM TV. Bannon spoke in English and his comments were translated into French.

Bannon, a former chairman of the right-wing website, has been meeting several of Europe’s populist groups with the aim of advising them before May’s European elections.

Opinion polls show Le Pen’s Rassemblement National party, formerly known as the National Front, to be neck-and-neck with President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Republic On the Move.

“Bannon has no role in our campaign. I did not even know he was in Paris for business. It has nothing to do with the campaign. It is you, the media that are dragging him into the campaign,” Le Pen also told FranceInfo on Monday.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Bate Felix; Editing by Toby Chopra