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VALDAI, Novgorod Region, September 19 (RIA Novosti) – In a playful exchange with France’s former prime minister, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that it was possible he would seek a fourth presidential term.
The exchange took place at the 10th annual meeting of the Valdai Club, a four-day, Kremlin-backed discussion forum bringing together several hundred Russian and foreign officials, scholars and other public figures in northwestern Russia.
During a question-and-answer session following Putin’s speech on Russia’s national identity, he asked former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon whether the latter planned to run for his country’s presidency; Fillon said he would reply only if Putin answered the same question – to which Putin said, “I don’t exclude [the possibility].”
“And I, too, don’t exclude [the possibility],” quipped Fillon, according to the Russian translation.
Putin was Russia's president from New Year's Eve of 1999 until spring 2008, and then served one four-year term as prime minister. He returned to the Kremlin for a third term last year.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.