PARIS – Cuban President Raul Castro was received with honor on Monday in France at the start of a two-day visit, marking a new stage in bilateral political and economic relations.
The French Minister of Ecology Segolene Royal served as host in a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, where a traditional wreath was laid at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Cuban leader arrived in Paris at the weekend but his official agenda begins on Monday, when he is scheduled to attend an official dinner at the Elysee with French President François Hollande.
This is the first trip by a Cuban leader to France since the trip made by his brother Fidel Castro in 1995, at the end of the presidency of François Mitterrand, and comes in response to Hollande’s visit to the Latin country in May 2015.
Hollande was the first Western president to travel to Cuba after the agreement signed with the United States for the normalization of relations.
That pact, signed last December, opened the door for foreign investment in the island, and France intends to reuse part of the outstanding Cuban debt of 360 million euros ($39.21 million) in joint development programs.