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'We should not be jealous': Macron

President defends moves to cut wealth tax, as he denies claims his is 'a president for the rich'

President Emmanuel Macron rejected claims he is a 'president of the rich' as he defended his record since June in a TV interview.

Since his election in May, Mr Macron has moved to reform France's labour laws via executive order, despite widespread street protests, and is now planning to replace the controversial wealth tax with a tax only on property wealth, and to cut housing aid.

Mr Macron told three journalists on a debate broadcast on TF1 on Sunday that scrapping the wealth tax would keep business talent in France and encourage wealthy people to invest more.

However the measure has prompted opponents to label Mr Macron the 'president of the rich' - an epithet he denied. "I am the president of all people," he said. "I am doing what I said I would do during the election campaign."

The President said that he found it divisive to oppose 'the rich' and others and said that there was too much jealousy - a 'sad French passion'.

He added: "For our society to work better we need people who succeed – and we shouldn’t be jealous of them. We should say ‘it’s great’…. There are women and men in society who succeed in society because they have talent… and success isn’t only monetary or financial, some people succeed in the arts, in associations and their family life, and I want to celebrate all these successes."

Mr Macron insisted his economic reforms would bear fruit. "Unemployment is currently falling," he said. "You will see the full effect of the reforms currently carried out by the government in one-and-a-half, to two years."

He added he would continue to pursue his reforms, 'with the same pace and the same determination', despite the protests and his plunging personal popularity. When he was elected, a poll showed he had the approval of 60% of the population. More recent surveys have seen that figure drop to the mid-40s.

The wide-ranging interview also touched on women's rights. Questioned about Secretary of State for Equality Marlène Schiappa's upcoming bill on harassment, Mr Macron said: "Today, too often, (women) don't press charges because they don't dare to."

And he insisted that he would still deal with US President Donald Trump, despite serious differences over climate change and, most recently, Iran.

"I constantly talk to the American president, because it is my duty," Mr Macron said. "It is the right way to do it because he is the head of the top power so it's necessary to anchor him to this partnership and multilateralism."

On Iran, he said he would go to Tehran in "due time", but added: "We must be more stringent with Iran on its ballistic activity, the missiles it shoots and which are not nuclear and Iran's action in the region."

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