Macron on Russia dialogue bid: 'it takes two to tango'

Riga (AFP) –

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday defended his bid for dialogue with Russia during a visit to the wary Baltic region, but admitted Moscow was reluctant to engage.

A diplomatic freeze set in between the EU and Russia after Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, a move that triggered fears of conflict along Europe's eastern flank.

France has broken with some EU nations by reaching out to restore dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a strategy to curb nuclear threats.

"Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to hold a dialogue and therefore it also depends on the willingness of the party involved to move forward or not," Macron said in the Latvian capital Riga.

Macron sought to allay concerns over Russia there and in neighbouring EU Baltic state Lithuania during his three-day visit to the region that was under Moscow's thumb during the Soviet era.

The trip was the first by a French head of state to the Baltic region in two decades and came as Vilnius and Riga are hoping for French support in the face of the crisis in neighbouring Belarus and rising tensions with Russia.

"This (dialogue) is what will allow us to build a much more stable and secure relationship (with Russia)," Macron said during a press briefing with Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krisjanis Karins.

"At no time will this dialogue... call into question or compromise your security or deny your history," Macron told the Latvian leader.