UPDATE 2-French foreign minister meets Raul Castro on historic visit to Cuba

sábado 12 de abril de 2014 20:42 GYT
 

* Part of warming trend with EU

* France looking to expand business ties to Latin America (Recasts with Castro meeting and news conference)

By Marc Frank

HAVANA, April 12 (Reuters) - France's foreign minister met with Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday during the first visit to the island by such a high-ranking French official in 31 years and a sign of the quickening pace of improving ties between the European Union and Havana.

Laurent Fabius said he discussed politics, human rights, market-oriented reforms in Cuba and bilateral relations in what he characterized as "a long conversation" with Castro.

"We want to push forward our relations in the areas of culture, education, economics and politics," Fabius, a former prime minister, told reporters at the end of a one-day visit to the communist-run Caribbean country.

"Of course, we have different points of view on certain issues, which doesn't stop us from exchanging perspectives and moving forward," he said.

Earlier in the day, Fabius met with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, various Cabinet ministers, Cardinal Jaime Ortega and French businessmen.

Since Fabius took office in 2012, he has tried to shift more of France's diplomatic focus toward winning contracts in markets where French firms are traditionally weak, as Paris looks to find growth opportunities overseas.   Continuación...