Putin says he will step down in 2024 as constitution requires

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Instead, the two leaders focused on concerns about the future of a multinational deal on Iran's nuclear deal program, now in jeopardy after Trump pulled the United States out of it. "It will create the atmosphere of nervousness and lack of trust". Well, France remains the leading foreign investor in Russian Federation.

Putin's remarks were made to reporters at an economic forum in St Petersburg and broadcast on state TV.

"A lot needs to be done to convince the Russians because it has interests in the Middle East, especially Syria, and its stance toward the West is aggressive", said a senior French diplomat.

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Putin also said Russian Federation was ready for dialogue with the United States, but that a proposed summit with U.S. President Donald Trump was not working out for now and was beset by problems.

Macron, who had traveled to Washington in an unsuccessful bid to persuade Trump to keep faith with the Iran deal, did not explicitly criticize the USA leader. Speaking at the panel, Putin again denied any meddling in the US election in 2016. The president stressed that people of Catalonia had a right to self-determination, "but at the same time we believe in respecting and conserving the sovereignty of states", he said.

Trump has derided the Iran deal as "insane" partly because its restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities begin expiring in 2025.

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The Russian leader also engaged in a tongue-in-cheek exchange with French President Emmanuel Macron, saying with a smile that Russia could help protect Europe if its rift with the USA widens over Iran. "If you asked me what is a fair price, I would say we're perfectly happy with $60 a barrel". "The system of multilateral cooperation, which took years to build, is no longer allowed to evolve".

During the forum in St. Petersburg today, Putin also said that he is not planning to cut off the transit of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine and was ready to talk to Ukraine on the issue that has been straining the energy relations between the two countries. Macron responded on a serious note that France and its allies could stand for themselves.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke at the forum and called for closer cooperation with Russian Federation. However, some observers have suggested he might seek to have the constitution changed.

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