Le Pen visits Russia weeks before French presidential vote

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, speaks to a invited guest in Paris, Monday, March 13, 2017. The first French presidential ballot will take place on April 23 and the two top candidates go into a runoff on May 7. (AP Photo/)
Michel Euler/AP
French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

PARIS — French far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is headed to Moscow for meetings with lawmakers less than a month before the election, officials from her National Front party said Thursday.

Her visit Friday follows a trip this week to Chad, base of a French military operation aimed at rooting out Islamic extremists from a swath of Africa. Le Pen is seeking to bolster her international credentials ahead of the two-round election April 23 and May 7.

The head of the Russian Duma’s international affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, was quoted by the Tass news agency as saying Le Pen will hold meetings on the ‘‘international agenda such as the war on terrorism.’’


Le Pen’s trip comes at a time when US lawmakers are investigating President Trump’s campaign links to Russia. Le Pen received a $9 million loan from a Russian bank in 2014 that raised concerns over Moscow’s potential influence on her and her party.

Le Pen has made multiple visits to Russia, as have her father, niece, and other members of the National Front, often meeting with Russian legislators. Moscow has courted far-right parties in Europe as friction between Russia and the West has mounted over the conflict in Ukraine and the Syrian civil war.