Castro meets with French officials to boost business ties

PARIS (AP) — Cuban President Raul Castro held a series of meetings with senior French officials on Tuesday, the second day of a state visit to France aimed at boosting business ties between the two countries.

Castro has been received with all honors for the first state visit ever of a Cuban president to France.

His schedule in Paris on Tuesday included meetings with UNESCO chief Irina Bokova, Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. He will also visit the Musee de l’Homme, a museum focusing on human evolution.

The Cuban delegation has also participated in a business forum with French companies as the Caribbean island’s economy opens up.

French companies already working with Cuba — such as Pernod Ricard beverages, the hotel company Accor, the Bouygues construction group and the shipping group CMA CGM — could get new development opportunities.

On Monday, President Francois Hollande called on the U.S. to lift its economic embargo in a joint appearance with his Cuban counterpart before a state dinner at the Elysee palace.

Castro leaves Paris on Wednesday.

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