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May 18, 4:03 PM EDT

The Latest: French media voice access concerns to Macron

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PARIS (AP) -- The Latest on French President Emmanuel Macron's first week in office (all times local):

9:35 p.m.

More than 20 French media organizations have signed an open letter to France's new president, Emmanuel Macron, to express concerns about restrictions on coverage.

The letter came as tensions arose over Macron's policies on media access.

Some French political reporters said the president's office called their outlets to designate the journalists who would be able to cover Macron's first trip outside Europe, scheduled in Mali on Friday.

The letter, which also was signed by press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, said: "In no case the Elysee must decide those of us who are entitled or not to cover a visit, whatever the theme is."

The letter states that none of Macron's predecessors identified the reporters who would be allowed to accompany them on trips and said it was not up to the president or his staff to decide "the internal functioning of the media organizations, their coverage choices and their approach."

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8:45 p.m.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is counting on June parliamentary elections to make her National Front party the leading political opposition force, and says she will be among the candidates running for a seat.

In her first public appearance since her crushing May 7 defeat in the presidential election, Le Pen said in a television interview on Thursday that she will run to represent her northern bastion of Henin-Beaumont.

Forces of division have been closing in on Le Pen since her electoral loss to centrist Emmanuel Macron, but she dismissed the notion that there were links between her loss and a series of events widely seen as potentially weakening her party.

Of the National Front, she said: "We are in reality the only opposition movement ... (with) an essential role to play."

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6:25 p.m.

French far-right Marine Le Pen is getting ready to announce whether she plans to run for a seat in the National Assembly in next month's parliamentary elections.

Le Pen has mostly been out of the limelight since her crushing bid in the presidential race to centrist Emmanuel Macron. She is scheduled to give a television interview on Thursday night and an announcement is expected by week's end.

Le Pen lost a bid for the lower house of the French parliament in 2012. A new failure could jinx her ambition to unite her National Front party and to make it the top opposition to Macron's government.

National Front secretary-general Nicolas Bay says Le Pen is counting on the 10.6 million votes she received as a presidential candidate to propel the party into parliament.

Bay says the party also hopes to pick up votes from "electoral orphans" unsatisfied with Macron and feeling betrayed by the mainstream right.

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6 p.m.

New French President Emmanuel Macron has held a special security meeting to examine measures protecting the country from terror threats and cyberattacks.

Macron's office says that the meeting, attended by the country's most senior military and security officials, focused on the operations of French armed forces abroad -mostly in Africa's Sahel region, Iraq and Syria.

Macron will make a visit on Friday to a French military base in Mali, a country where multiple extremist groups pose a growing danger to the region.

The special security meeting lasted 1 hours and no additional details have emerged about what was discussed. The new defense and foreign ministers were present at the meeting.

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2 p.m.

The Kremlin says the leaders of Russia and France have discussed possible cooperation on international issues, including the fight against terrorism.

It said in a statement that Vladimir Putin on Thursday congratulated French President Emmanuel Macron on taking office and forming his Cabinet. The statement added that the have voiced readiness to develop "traditionally friendly" economic, political and cultural ties.

The Kremlin said the two leaders have "agreed to work jointly on acute international and regional issues, including the fight against terrorism." It noted that they underlined the importance of cooperation in settling the Ukrainian crisis on the basis of the Minsk agreement. France and Germany jointly brokered the 2015 peace deal for eastern Ukraine.

The statement noted they discussed opportunities for a personal meeting.

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12 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has gathered his newly-named government for his first Cabinet meeting - an assembly that looks significantly different than its predecessors.

The government, appointed on Wednesday, is a mix of 22 prominent and unknown figures from the left and the right, half of them women.

They arrived smiling Thursday, briefly posing for photographs on the front porch of the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris.

The most senior Cabinet job, interior minister, went to Gerard Collomb, 69, long-time Socialist mayor of Lyon who played a key role in Macron's presidential bid.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, a 69-year-old former defense minister under then President Francois Hollande, stays on in Macron's government as foreign minister and Europe minister.

The armed forces are now led by 52-year-old centrist, pro-European Sylvie Goulard.

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