French president Emmanuel Macron has used his first official meeting with Vladimir Putin to challenge the Russian president over the issue of LGBT rights.
39-year-old Macron, who beat National Front leader Marine Le Pen to become the youngest President in the history of France earlier this month, says he has urged his Russian counterpart to ensure LGBT people are protected following allegations of an violent crackdown in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
Addressing reporters outside the Palace of Versailles on Monday (May 30) in a joint press conference with Mr Putin, Mr Macron revealed that he had raised concerns about the treatment of LGBT people in Chechnya under the region's Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov, and also the status of human rights groups in Russia.
"I've reminded President Putin of the importance of many subjects that affect both our values and our public opinions", he said, as Mr Putin stood beside him listening to his comments via translation.
"I've also reminded him of how important respect for everyone - all minorities and all sensitivities in civil society - is for France.
He continued: "We have raised the question of LGBT persons in Chechnya, as well as the question of NGOs [non-governmental organisations] in Russia.
"Regarding this, I've made very clear to President Putin France's expectations, and we have agreed to have extremely regular follow-ups together."
Mr Macron went on to reveal that Mr Putin told him steps were being taken to uncover the truth about the ongoing situation in Chechnya, where a Russian newspaper claims
as many as 26 gay men have been killed as part of a state-sponsored campaign of violence.
"President Putin has indicated to me that he has taken many initiatives on the subject of LGBT people in Chechnya, with measures aiming to bring to light the whole truth regarding the activities of local authorities and to resolve the most sensitive of issues," Mr Macron said.
"For my part, I will always remain vigilant where it concerns these issues that correspond to our values."
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