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New French president holds first Cabinet meeting

French p resident Emmanuel Macron has gathered his Cabinet for its first meeting - an assembly which looks significantly different to its predecessors.

The government appointed on Wednesday is a mix of 22 prominent and unknown figures from the left and the right, with half of them women.

The new Cabinet posed briefly for photographs on the front porch of the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris.

The most senior Cabinet job, interior minister, went to Gerard Collomb, 69, long-time Socialist mayor of Lyon who played a key role in Mr Macron's presidential bid.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, 69, former defence minister under former president Francois Hollande, stays on in Mr Macron's government as foreign minister and Europe minister.

The armed forces are now led by centrist, pro-European Sylvie Goulard, 52.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has congratulated Mr Macron on taking office and forming his Cabinet.

The Kremlin said the French and Russian leaders have discussed possible co-operation on international issues, including the fight against terrorism.

A statement added that the leaders have voiced readiness to develop "traditionally friendly" economic, political and cultural ties.

The Kremlin said the two leaders have "agreed to work jointly on acute international and regional issues, including the fight against terrorism".

It noted that they underlined the importance of co-operation in settling the Ukrainian crisis on the basis of the Minsk agreement. France and Germany jointly brokered the 2015 peace deal for eastern Ukraine.

The statement noted they also discussed opportunities for a personal meeting.

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