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French president talks to Putin, faces media troubles

19 May 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron is finalizing his government lineup Wednesday and will meet with a senior European Union official as both try to keep the bloc from falling apart.

In his first speech in the ministry's courtyard Wednesday, Collomb said Europe and France especially "are being targeted by terrorists", noting that the terrorist threat comes from overseas, but is also "rooted in our territory".

The 69-year-old Le Drian is a longstanding close friend of former Socialist President Francois Hollande, a rare popular minister in Hollande's deeply unpopular government and an experienced political heavyweight by the standards of some of his new ministerial colleagues.

Although the extra background checks on ministers' "tax status" and possible conflicts of interests were the reasons given for the delay, it is also possible 39-year-old Macron needs more time to complete a delicate balancing act.

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France's new foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian (John-Eve Le DREE-on), has vowed to promote the country's "key role" in the global community.

Le Drian will also be supported on the Europe portfolio by junior minister Marielle De Sarnez, a centrist European expert who has been a member of the European parliament since 1999.

Macron has said half his ministers will be women and that some will be high achievers in business, academia, the civil service or the NGO world. Nicolas Hulot, the well-known host of a television show focusing on nature and the environment, was named minister for environment transition.

"The election of the new French president offers us here the possibility to bring dynamism into the development of Europe", she said, emboldened after her conservatives won a regional vote on Sunday that boosts her chances of re-election in September.

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Penicaud will have the daunting task of supervising the reform of labor protections, a part of Macron's agenda that already has prompted outcries from unions.

The youngest person selected to work in Macron's government was Mounir Mahjoubi, 33, who was named junior minister for digital economy. As Macron's campaign digital chief, Mahjoubi was responsible for cybersecurity. A series of tax evasion and other scandals hit the previous government.

His party Le Republique en Marche is scrambling to get 577 candidates together to contest every seat in the country.

Keeping him in government should also ensure continuity in negotiations now underway.

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The choice of Philippe is aimed at drawing more defectors from The Republicans, in the same way as Macron's decision not to put up an REM candidate in Manuel Valls' constituency pulls the Socialist former prime minister closer, and makes it hard for a divided left to re-unite. It's a sign of the new French president's determination to shore up European unity.

French president talks to Putin, faces media troubles