French presidential candidate Macron to meet with British PM Theresa May | Reuters

PARIS/LONDON French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron will be meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday during his visit to London, a coup for the young frontrunner who has been seeking to boost his credibility on the world stage.Macron, who is seeking to bolster his stature as a statesman, will be received by May at 10 Downing Street this afternoon for an hour to talk about Brexit and European defence policy, a spokesman told Reuters.He is seen by opinion polls as defeating far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of the French presidential election on May 7.Having never been elected for office, the 39-year old came under a storm of criticism last week during his last trip abroad in Algeria after he called France's colonial past a "crime against humanity".Le Pen was also campaigning outside France on Tuesday, using a two-day visit to Lebanon to bolster her foreign policy credentials.

Macron will be on more familiar territory in London, where the former economy minister will also meet Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond at 15:30 GMT, the spokesman said. He will be holding a campaign rally in London later on Tuesday, where between 2,000-3,000 French expatriates are expected to turn up.

Macron has struck a firm tone on Brexit before.In January, he said Britain was turning into a "vassal state" to Donald Trump's United States.

He also told Channel 4 News on Feb. 13 that he would be "pretty tough" with Britain.May's spokesman said Macron had asked for a meeting and "we were able to accommodate." Asked whether it was the first time a British Prime Minister had met a French presidential candidate, the spokesman said Tony Blair had met Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, Michel Rose and Elizabeth Piper in London; editing by John Irish)

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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2017 23:02:31 IST

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