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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 13:04 GMT
Putin ends EU visit in France
Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac at Elysee Palace
The Russian leader was warmly received in Paris
Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting France's Jacques Chirac in Paris after the Rome EU-Russia summit.

He arrived in Paris on Friday along with his Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, who was also due to have talks with his French counterpart, Dominique de Villepin.

Mr Putin, who visited France earlier this year, was warmly greeted by Mr Chirac on the steps of the Elysee presidential palace.

The Russian leader's last visit to France was in February, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, when he joined France and Germany in opposition to the US.

High on the agenda as he and Mr Chirac hold a brief working lunch will be ever-closer trade ties.

Critics

France is eager to build up further links with Russian entrepreneurs - despite the recent arrest in Russia of the former head of the Yukos oil company, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Some have seen the action as a worrying return to authoritarian tendencies by the Kremlin, the BBC's Caroline Wyatt reports.

Critics say the arrest and the continuing human rights abuses by Russian soldiers against Chechen civilians should be on the agenda in Paris.

This is the last day of President Putin's visit to Europe, in which he has tried to convince European leaders that there is nothing sinister about the arrest of Russia's wealthiest businessman.


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