Cuba’s Raul Castro on grand bridge-building France trip


HAVANA: Cuba’s Communist President Raul Castro will be welcomed under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris during a rare state visit Monday to showcase his island’s warming ties with big world powers. Having restored relations last year with the United States, the 84-year-old leader now pays court to France, one of his most powerful European allies. During Castro’s visit, France and Cuba are expected to sign an “economic roadmap” to develop ties, French officials said. They will also sign deals on transport, tourism and fair trade. Bilateral trade between France and Cuba is currently worth about $195 million. It is Castro’s first state visit to Europe since he took over from his elder brother Fidel as leader in 2006. The latter visited France in 1995 and met with its then president Francois Mitterrand.



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