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France's new President in early pledge to fight terrorism

By Sylvie Corbet

Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated as France's new President at the Elysee palace in Paris yesterday and immediately launched into his mission to fight terrorism and shake up French politics and the EU.

At 39 Macron is the youngest President in the country's history and the eighth of France's Fifth Republic, which was created in 1958.

A former economy minister with pro-business, pro-European views, he is the first French President who does not originate from one of the country's two mainstream parties.

Mr Macron takes charge of a nation that, when the UK leaves the European Union in 2019, will be the only member with nuclear weapons and a permanent UN Security Council seat.

He met for an hour with his predecessor Francois Hollande, in the palace, taking a last few minutes to discuss the most sensitive issues facing France, including the country's nuclear codes.

In a visibly moving moment for both, Mr Macron accompanied Mr Hollande to his car, shaking hands and applauding him along with the employees of the French presidency who gathered in the palace's courtyard.

In his inauguration speech Mr Macron said he will do everything that is necessary to fight terrorism and authoritarianism and to resolve the world's migration crisis.

He listed "the excesses of capitalism in the world" and climate change among future challenges. "We will take all our responsibilities to provide, every time it's needed, a relevant response to big contemporary crises."

Mr Macron announced his determination to push ahead with reforms to free up the economy and vowed to press for a "more efficient, more democratic" EU. France is its third-largest economy after Germany and the UK.

About 300 guests, officials and family members gathered in the Elysee reception hall, including Mr Macron's wife Brigitte wearing a lavender blue dress by French designer Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton.

The new first lady posed for photographers with her husband at the palace, where they will now live.

His first visit abroad will be to Germany to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

After the inauguration, 21 cannon shots were fired from across the Seine River at Les Invalides.

Mr Macron then walked across the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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