Russian President Vladimir Putin and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron called on Friday for a cease-fire in Libya and a return to dialogue, the Kremlin said in a statement following a phone call between the two leaders.
Russia backs putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar, and France is also suspected of favoring him – although Paris insists it is neutral in the conflict.
Haftar has endured a series of defeats in recent weeks against the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) forces.
On Thursday, France, Germany and Italy called on forces in Libya to cease fighting and for outside parties to stop any interference in a bid to try and get political talks back on track.
According to an official, Macron also raised with Putin "foreign interference in Libya" including the presence of mercenaries from the Wagner group, a Russian paramilitary organization reportedly run by a confidant of Putin.
According to the Kremlin website, Putin told Macron: "I know your mindset aimed at organizing joint work on many of these subjects. We will support your proposals in any way possible."
The French official said that during two hours of talks, Putin had also invited Macron to Russia and the French president had accepted, although no date has been set.
The visit would likely take place "in the next months" and "before the end of the year" although the coronavirus crisis would have to be taken account of, the official said.
The Kremlin also said that Putin extended the invitation to "dear Emmanuel."
The French leader had planned to attend events in Red Square last month to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.
But that event was canceled as a result of the pandemic, although it went ahead – without Macron in attendance – in Moscow on Wednesday.
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