PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the French presidential election (all times local):
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has vowed to keep up France's operations against extremists in Iraq and Syria within a U.S.-led coalition.
During a political rally in the rural town of Chatellerault on Friday night, Macron said the aim of France's military intervention is to "eradicate Islamist terrorist movements" in both Mideast countries.
He added that France must intervene "against those who are using chemical weapons," specifically citing Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
Macron also said that if elected, he would launch an international diplomatic initiative to "stabilize the region."
Answering a young child's question about the threat of terrorism in France, Macron said he wants to boost intelligence services within the country to prevent potential attacks.
Macron, a centrist candidate, is facing far-right Marine Le Pen in a presidential runoff on May 7.
French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron has promoted his vision of an "open, liberal, generous France" during a rally in a rural area of western France.
Macron, speaking in the town of Chatellerault, said about the nationalist views of far-right rival Marine Le Pen's party: "No, the National Front is not a party like any other."
He says fellow politicians who refuse to call on voters to block Le Pen from the presidency "are making a deep, serious, moral and political mistake."
During his rally focusing on the issues facing rural France, the pro-European, pro-free market Macron promised 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) to help modernize French farms facing European and international competition.
He also advocated providing high-speed internet access and encouraging more doctors to work in small towns and villages, while promising not to close public schools in rural areas.
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has promised that if elected, he will come back to a village for the June commemoration of the largest massacre in Nazi-occupied France.
Oradour-sur-Glane is today a ghost town, with burned-out cars and abandoned buildings left as testimony to its history.
Macron met with the last living survivor of the massacre, 91-year-old Robert Hebras, who accompanied him for one hour at the site. He laid a wreath at the village's cemetery.
On June 10, 1944, four days after the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy, an SS armored division herded villagers into barns and a church, blocked the doors, and set Oradour-sur-Glane ablaze. A total of 642 men, women and children died.
Only six people survived.
French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says she "abhors" Holocaust doubters amid a scandal involving a senior official in her party.
Le Pen has made the comment after allegations that a vice president of her National Front party expressed skepticism about Nazi gas chambers.
Le Pen has worked to clean up the image of her National Front party to make it an acceptable alternative, and noted in an interview on BFM-TV that in 2015 she forced her father out of the party he founded and led for 40 years after he repeated a statement diminishing the Holocaust, for which he had been convicted.
Le Pen said that today "there is no one in the direction of the National Front who defend these theses."
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has paid homage to Nazi victims, urging voters not to repeat "the darkest page" of modern French history by forgetting the horrors of World War II.
Macron walked slowly through the site of the deadliest massacre in Nazi-occupied France, the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in western France.
In 1944, an SS armored division herded villagers into barns and a church, blocked the doors, and set the village ablaze. A total of 642 people died, and only six survived. The town's ruins are preserved as a testimony to Nazi horrors.
Macron warned that "to forget ... is to take the risk of repeating history and these errors."
He is trying to distinguish himself from far-right rival Marine Le Pen, whose party's past is stained by anti-Semitism.
French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon is suggesting he will vote against nationalist Marine Le Pen in the May 7 presidential runoff — but is refusing to endorse her centrist rival, Emmanuel Macron.
Melenchon came in a close fourth place in Sunday's first-round election, and told his 7 million voters Friday in a YouTube video: "You don't need me to tell you who to vote for. I'm not a guru."
Instead of lining up behind Macron as other leading candidates have done, Melenchon wants to maintain his independence and to capitalize on his strong showing in the presidential race for a parliamentary election in June.
He warned that both Macron and Le Pen would lead to instability in France and "divide everyone."
Le Pen appealed Friday to Melenchon's voters to block Macron from the presidency. Both Le Pen and Melenchon led populist campaigns against the so-called globalized elite.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that she hopes French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron wins the presidential runoff, but rejected suggestions he would heed Germany's bidding.
Asked in an interview with German media group RND whether Macron needed to prove he's not a "German poodle," Merkel said the term was "simply absurd."
In the interview published Friday, Merkel said she didn't have "the slightest doubt that Emmanuel Macron, if he's elected, which I hope, will be a strong president."
Merkel declined to say whether Germany would be willing to provide the European Union with further funds to support economic stability in France.
She said: "We will see, I can't anticipate the discussion with the next French president."
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is reaching from her far-right base across to the far left, urging voters who chose communist-linked Jean-Luc Melenchon in the first-round vote to support her in the runoff election.
Le Pen issued a video via Twitter on Friday urging Melenchon's voters to "block" her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron, arguing that the former banker and government minister represents the status quo and "arrogant finance."
Le Pen and Melenchon won a combined 40 percent of the vote in the first round after populist campaigns that tapped into widespread frustration with mainstream politics.
While they hold opposing views on immigration and social issues, Melenchon and Le Pen are both skeptical of the European Union, hostile to free-trade deals and promised to help workers hurt by globalization.
Melenchon is the only leading candidate from the first round who has not given guidance to his voters for the May 7 runoff.
Soccer great Zinedine Zidane says that the French should do anything they can to avoid having far-right candidate Marine Le Pen win the presidency.
Referring to Le Pen's party, the Real Madrid coach and former France international says that he is "far from all these ideas, from this National Front. So we need to do everything to avoid this."
Zidane, who was born in Marseille and comes from Algerian descent, took a similar stance when Jean-Marie Le Pen — Marine's father — made it to the second round of the 2002 presidential election.
A former World Cup and European Championship winner, Zidane remains highly popular in France. He says the message "is the same, the one from 2002."
Le Pen faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in the presidential runoff on May 7.
French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is painting herself as David against rival Emmanuel Macron's Goliath as she tries to overcome a poll gap and broaden her support base ahead of a May 7 runoff.
In an interview Friday with regional broadcasters France Bleu and France 3, Le Pen accused pro-business centrist Macron of being the candidate of the "oligarchy" and the elite.
Le Pen described Macron and France's employers' lobby, leading trade union and media magnates as "Goliath." She added that "the love that we have for this country is the stone that David used against Goliath" to kill him in the biblical tale.
Le Pen has been courting the blue-collar vote, while Macron argues that France needs to make it easier for companies to hire.
Polish officials have dismissed as "populist" recent comments by French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron who said he will press for European Union sanctions on Warsaw if he is president.
Macron spoke with French regional daily "La Voix du Nord" after visiting a house appliances factory that is scheduled to move to Poland, where labor costs are cheaper.
He said he would take action on Poland, saying it infringes fundamental EU values and uses fiscal differences to its favor.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski said Friday Macron's words were "pure populism" and violated the EU's idea of a common market.
Government spokesman Rafal Bochenek said Poland objects to being used in France's campaign ahead of the May 7 runoff between Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen's far-right party is in new turmoil — its temporary leader is stepping down over allegations he expressed doubt about Nazi gas chambers.
National Front vice president Louis Aliot said on BFM television Friday that interim party leader Jean-Francois Jalkh is leaving his post because of comments reported in a 2000 interview.
Jalkh took over this week after Le Pen said she would step aside to concentrate on her campaign.
Aliot said that Jalkh is contesting allegations of Holocaust denial, a crime in France.
Le Pen has worked hard to detoxify the party, tainted by racism and anti-Semitism in the past. She faces centrist Emmanuel Macron in a highly charged presidential runoff May 7.
Macron is visiting the site of a Nazi massacre later Friday.