AFP

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin met Marine Le Pen during a visit to Moscow on Friday by the French far-right presidential candidate, Russian state television showed.

“We by no means want to influence the current events but we reserve the right to communicate with all representatives of all political forces of the country, as do our partners in Europe and the United States for example,” Interfax news agency quoted Putin as telling Le Pen.

“I know that you represent quite a fast-developing spectrum of European political forces.” Putin’s meeting with Le Pen was not announced this week when the Russian parliament confirmed that the National Front leader would be visiting Moscow on Friday to meet with lawmakers. Earlier Friday, Le Pen met Russian parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, calling for increasing cooperation with Russia in the fight against “terrorism.” She has visited Moscow on several occasions, enjoying positive Russian state media coverage.

Le Pen is among European politicians who have called for closer ties with Putin and approved of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.