Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during his and French President Emmanuel Macron joint news conference following the talks at the Konstantin palace with the statue of the Peter The Great in the background just outside St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, May 24, 2018. Macron's talks with Putin are set to focus on the U.S. exit from the Iranian nuclear deal, as well as conflict in Syria and Ukraine. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Putin meets Macron, says North Korea summit end regrettable

May 24, 2018 - 4:14 pm

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that North Korea fulfilled its promises ahead of the canceled summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

At a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Putin said the North Korean leader "did everything that he had promised in advance, even blowing up the tunnels and shafts" of the country's nuclear testing site. "After which, we heard about cancellation of the summit by the United States."

He said Russia regretted the development, added that "we had very much counted on it being a significant step in sorting out the situation on the Korean peninsula and that it would be the beginning of the process of denuclearizing the whole Korean peninsula."

Macron expressed hope that the efforts in Korea for "engagement toward a process of non-proliferation and denuclearization can continue."

"France is completely disposed to help, but I think it's for the entire international community ... and the United Nations has a particular role to play to work on it," the French leader said.

Macron met with Putin in St. Petersburg amid deep differences with Putin over Syria, Ukraine and alleged Russian meddling abroad. But both men want to salvage the Iranian nuclear deal that the U.S. has withdrawn from.

Macron's aides insist he is not cozying up to Putin or seeking to pivot away from France's longstanding alliance with the U.S. in favor of one with Russia and China.

Rather, they say Macron wants to keep a dialogue open to help solve world crises. France also wants Russia to use its influence with Iran to ensure it respects its nuclear commitments despite Trump's decision.

And the Iran issue marks the first time that Russia, France and Germany agree on such a major matter in years.

Macron also said he plans to attend some of the World Cup soccer matches in Russia this summer. There had been speculation he would stay away to protest the poisoning of an ex-Russian agent in Britain.

"Because I am an optimist by nature, I can say with assurance that I probably will come to support our team in several weeks," Macron said.

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