France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who leads the main right-wing opposition, will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow by the end of October, according to multiple sources.
The sources, who chose to remain anonymous, did not specify exactly when the visit would take place.
The visit comes as France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande appeared to criticise Russia for its airstrikes in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while his own country has Islamic State group targets.
Western powers say the large majority of Russia’s military strikes in Syria have not been aimed at Islamic State or jihadists tied to Al-Qaeda — a charge Moscow denies.
Vladimir Putin enjoyed a warm relationship with Sarkozy during the Frenchman’s 2007-2012 stint at the Elysee, even addressing him as “dear Nicolas” at an event in 2012 and fondly recalling their joint work.
After a humiliating loss to Francois Hollande in 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy returned to frontline politics to lead The Republicans party but rivals such as popular former prime minister Alain Juppe are still jockeying to win primary elections planned for 2016.