Sarkozy Says He Told Putin Russia Should Lift Sanctions First

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to take the first step in lifting sanctions by starting to remove retributive barriers Russia imposed against food imports from the European Union.

“I told Putin to make this offer -- there’s no risk in being the first to make a gesture of goodwill,” Sarkozy told a panel at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Thursday. “That’s the mission of a great power, to be the first to put forward its hand.”

Sarkozy, leader of the center-right opposition Les Republicains party, met Putin for an informal dinner at his residence outside of Moscow on the eve of Russia’s biggest annual investor forum. The French ex-leader, who may run in the 2017 presidential election, called earlier this week for a step-by-step easing of Russian and European Union sanctions to help break the logjam in the Ukraine peace process.

The 28-member EU, in concert with the U.S., in 2014 imposed energy and financial sanctions on Russia over its intervention in Ukraine that are expected to be extended for another six months until the end of the year. Russia banned most EU foodstuffs in retaliation, costing European exporters billions of euros in lost revenues.

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