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French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a meeting with prefects at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Etienne Laurent/Pool

(reuters_tickers)

PARIS (Reuters) - Turkey remains a vital partner of the European Union and ties should be maintained even if the country had taken a worrying turn of late, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview published on Thursday.

The comments from the French president followed ones on Sunday in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel said talks on Turkish membership of the European Union should be halted.

Speaking to Greece's Kathimerini newspaper, Macron was quoted as saying: "Turkey has indeed strayed away from the European Union in recent months and worryingly overstepped the mark in ways that cannot go ignored, notably concerning the customs union".

"But I want to avoid a split because it's a vital partner in many crises we all face, notably the immigration challenge and the terrorist threat."

(Reporting by Brian Love; Editing by Alison Williams)

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