French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday holds his first bilateral summit with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where their shared pragmatism might help them do business despite sharp diplomatic differences.
Their reputation for straight talking could stand them in good stead when they discuss energy and industrial cooperation as well as policy splits over Iran's nuclear plans and the fate of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo.
"The visit is even more important for Russia because in the past few months France has accelerated its foreign policy activities," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters .
" Russia and France have to discuss a number of major issues. On some of them our positions are close or coincide, but it's no secret there are issues to which we have different approaches."
Paris favours independence for Kosovo while Moscow backs Serbia's rejection of statehood for the ethnic Albanian majority territory.
"We are ready to accept any alternative solution as long as it has the agreement of the parties," Sarkozy's spokesman David Martinon said of Kosovo on Friday.
On Iran's disputed nuclear programme, Paris and Berlin signalled on Friday the European Union could punish the Islamic republic for pressing ahead with its nuclear programme before the world's top powers agree on further sanctions at the United Nations.
Iran denies any plans to build an atomic bomb and Moscow wants new sanctions to remain on hold until a report by an EU negotiator and a U.N. inspectors survey of Tehran's activities.