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article imageMacron, Putin to mix football and diplomacy at World Cup final

By AFP     Jul 11, 2018 in Politics

French President Emmanuel Macron will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday during his trip to Moscow to watch the World Cup final, a presidential aide told AFP.

It is not yet decided whether they will meet at the Kremlin or at the stadium where France is set to play the winner of Wednesday night's semi-final between England and Croatia, the aide said.

The meeting will come a day before Putin sits down with US President Donald Trump in Helsinki for the first bilateral summit between the two leaders.

Macron and Putin talk regularly on the phone and have hosted each other for summit meetings in the last year, but they have found little common ground on issues such as the Syrian civil war and conflict in Ukraine.

British officials are boycotting the World Cup in Russia after blaming Moscow for the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the streets of an English town in March.

A limited number of countries, including Iceland, Poland, Sweden and Denmark, have followed suit but to differing degrees.

Moscow has done little to hide its pleasure at the effective failure of a bigger diplomatic boycott of the event.

Italy's far-right Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who is an open admirer of Putin, is also set to attend the final on Sunday.

He and Macron have clashed recently over migration policy in Europe.

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