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France's Fillon says Russia sanctions pointless, dialogue needed

Reuters

BERLIN (Reuters) - European Union sanctions on Russia are pointless, the frontrunner in France's presidential election Francois Fillon said on Monday during a visit to Berlin, warning of a risk that Russia and the United States forge links that exclude the EU.

Fillon said a gesture from Russia would be needed before sanctions could be lifted, adding that Ukraine was also not doing what it needed to do to ensure peace.

"I am convinced that the economic sanctions are totally ineffective," Fillon told reporters after meeting Merkel in Berlin. "We must find another way to talk."

He added: "I do not want (U.S. President Donald) Trump to talk with Russia at our expense. It would be damaging for Europe if Trump went above our heads, which is not inconceivable."

(Reporting by Sophie Louet; Writing by Ingrid Melander)