France's Macron: aiming to talk to Putin in next 48-72 hours over Mariupol siege

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French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he speaks to the media after European Union leaders' summit, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium, March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

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BRUSSELS, March 25 (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said he was targetingmore talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin within the next 48-72 hours regarding the situation in Ukraine and an initiative to help people leave the besieged city of Mariupol.

Macron said he was coordinating efforts with Greece and Turkey and hoped to convince Russia to allow the evacuation.

The southeastern port of Mariupol, a city of 400,000 before the war, has been among the worst hit by the Russian bombardment. Tens of thousands of people are still believed to be trapped with little access to food, power or heat, while the city around them has been reduced to ruins.

There was a concrete discussion today with the Mayor of Mariupol. We are coordinating and we will then negotiate with the Russians," Macron told reporters after an EU summit in Brussels. "The quickest possible, we hope in the next few days. I will have a conversation with President Putin in the next 48 to 72 hours to finalize the details and modalities. It is urgent," added Macron.

Moscow signalled on Friday it was scaling back its ambitions in Ukraine to focus on territory claimed by Russian-backed separatists as Ukrainian forces went on the offensive to recapture towns on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv. read more

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Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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