Putin says he will step down in 2024 as constitution requires

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the presentation of the French government's plan for the country's most deprived areas at the Elysee Palace in Paris

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his hopes for improved relations with the USA under President Donald Trump are all but dashed.

'Today we need not trade wars or even trade truces, but trade peace, ' Putin told an economic summit in Saint Petersburg, also attended by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron.

There were few signs Macron succeeded in shifting Putin's stance over Syria, where Russian and Iranian military support for President Bashar al-Assad over the past three years has allowed Assad to crush the rebel threat to topple him.

"We set ourselves the task of gaining a foothold in this group of five, and I am certain that we will accomplish this".

Earlier this month Trump controversially pulled the United States out of the landmark 2015 pact with Iran that placed limits on its nuclear programme in return for easing economic sanctions.

Macron's aides insist he is not cozying up to Putin, or seeking to pivot away from France's longstanding alliance with the U.S.in favour of one with Russian Federation and China.

For the Kremlin, the EU pledge to protect its companies doing business with Iran from prospective USA sanctions sets an important precedent of the European resistance to the US pressure.

He also railed against the United States applying its laws beyond its borders to punish foreign companies.

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. Macron acknowledged Paris and Moscow disagreed on a range of issues but called for "strong multilateralism".

He said he would try to convince Trump to return to talks about Iran's nuclear program, and was also critical of Trump's decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, out of step with the stance of most European governments.

Macron's office however said that while the pair agreed on the need to "preserve the gains from the agreement", the French leader was also pushing for worldwide talks on a potential wider deal.

As he sat alongside Putin, Macron referred repeatedly to the need to establish "European financial sovereignty" - a jab at European economies' reliance on the USA financial system.

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