Hollande Arrives in Cuba For Talks

Hollande Arrives in Cuba For Talks

French President Francois Hollande, center. UPI/Str

HAVANA, May 11 (UPI) — French President Francois Hollande became the first Western leader to visit Cuba since the U.S.-Cuba diplomatic thaw.

Hollande arrived in Havana Sunday, the first French leader to visit Cuba in over a century. The visit is aimed at improving French, and other European, business interests in Cuba. Prior to the trip, he said France should “be the first among European nations, and the first among Western nations, to be able to say to the Cubans that we will be at their side if they decide themselves to take needed steps toward opening up.”

Before arriving in Cuba, Hollande added, during a stop on the island of Guadalupe, “Cuba wants to move on to a new phase, a new period, a new time for this island that was victim of an embargo,” a reference to U.S. trade sanctions in place since 1962.

Relative to other western countries, France and Cuba have enjoyed good relations throughout Cuba’s turn as a Communist economy.

Hollande, whose office noted he is hoping for an opportunity to meet with former leader Fidel Castro, will hold talks with Cuban President Raul Castro Monday. Hollande’s trip follows that of Raul Castro to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis, where Castro thanked the Pope for helping broker the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba.


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