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POLITICS

Hollande to have ‘frank’ talk with Trump on Friday

French President Francois Hollande said on Friday he would "clarify positions" with US president-elect Donald Trump during "frank" telephone discussions later in the day.

Hollande to have 'frank' talk with Trump on Friday
President-elect Donald Trump speaking to press. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP

“I will have to clarify and seek clarification on positions. We must speak frankly to each other,” Hollande told France 2 television on the sidelines of France's Armistice commemorations.

On Wednesday, the Socialist president had said the Republican billionaire's election win “opens a period of uncertainty” and offered only brief congratulations.

“Donald Trump has been elected, my duty is to ensure that we have the best relations but on the basis of frankness and clarity,” Hollande, who declared a few months ago Trump's excesses “make you want to retch”, said Friday.

The French leader cited the fight against terrorism, the battle against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq and the conflict in eastern Ukraine among the subjects he wished to discuss.

He underscored the “long friendship” between France and the US and underscored the solidarity shown by Americans during a series of jihadist attacks on French soil over the past two years.

“Each time the American people were by our side,” he said, adding: “Our two peoples are very closely connected.”

Trump has raised hackles in France after saying the November 2015 Paris attacks that left 130 people dead might have been avoided if the country had looser gun laws.

He has also referred to “vicious” no-go zones in Paris and said French people arriving in the United States could face security vetting because of fears about extremists.

POLITICS

French military bans Russians from chateau over Ukraine war

The French military has banned Russian nationals from visiting the Chateau de Vincennes, a medieval fortress, tourist attraction and military site on the edge of Paris, due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, officials told AFP.

French military bans Russians from chateau over Ukraine war

Once the residence of French kings and among Europe’s best-preserved monuments of its kind, the castle is for the most part open to the public, including for tours, concerts, theatre plays and other events.

But although best-known as a tourist attraction it is also technically a military site, housing part of the French armed forces’ historical archives, to which access is restricted.

The mounted Garde republicaine – a division of the French military – are also partially based at the chateaux.

It is therefore covered by a French ban on Russian nationals entering army territory that was issued after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Each year some 150,000 people visit the chateau, paying €9.50 per adult admission.

But on July 28th, two Russian women were refused access.

“A guard at the metal detector asked to see my passport,” said one of the women, 31, who works as a journalist and has been in France for five months, having left Russia “because of the war”.

On inspecting the document, the guard informed her she couldn’t pass, the woman, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

Another guard also denied her entry and gave as the reason “because you are Russian”, she said, adding she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

Contacted by AFP, the defence ministry confirmed late Monday that it had, indeed, “restricted access to military installations to Russian nationals” because of the invasion.

But after media coverage and social media comment, the ministry contacted AFP on Tuesday to say that the guards had in fact “indiscriminately applied a rule established in February concerning all military installations”.

“This rule cannot be applied in the same way for strategic sites and for sites accessible to the public, such as museums,” a spokesman said.

The ministry said security staff would now be informed of the distinction “to avoid any further incidents of this kind”.

Russian journalists could, however, apply for an exemption, a ministry official added.

The majority of France’s most popular tourist sites have no military function and would not be affected by the ban. 

Since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February, France has taken in some 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, government figures show.

About 73,500 Russian immigrants lived in France in 2021, according to the national statistics office Insee.

There has been debate within the European Union about whether further limits should be placed on Russians visiting the bloc for tourism or personal reasons.

Russia’s neighbour Finland last week issued a plan to limit tourist visas  for Russians but also emphasised the need for an EU-level decision on the matter.

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