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Hollande meets Castro brothers during French state visit to Cuba

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Hollande meets Castro brothers during French state visit to Cuba


President Francois Hollande has called for an end to the US trade embargo of Cuba during his visit to the communist nation – the first by a French head of state.

It was also the first by a high-profile Western leader since the thawing of relations between Washington and Havana was announced in December.

The trip has been packed with meetings including one with President Raul Castro’s brother, 88-year-old former revolutionary leader Fidel.

Unlike some other European countries, France has long maintained reasonably good relations with Cuba and wants to benefit from the new economic openness.

France is one of Cuba’s biggest trading partners within the EU and the countries have long cooperated in a number of other areas, including tourism and culture.

Paris has long opposed the US embargo and lifting it would help most French companies doing business there.

The small country is in foreign policy talks with both the European Union and the United States amid intense world interest – the Pope is due to visit in September.

However the US trade embargo remains a thorny issue. Republican controlled Congress is resisting President Obama’s call for the embargo to be removed.

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