French foreign minister meets Raul Castro on historic visit to Cuba

Posted by Joseph R. Fonseca
Saturday, April 12, 2014

 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.
 
France is looking to expand its business ties with Latin America and sees Cuba as an important player in the region, given that it hosted a regional summit this year and both Brazil and Mexico are increasing their presence in the country.
 
"There are many French firms already here, but it's necessary that this presence is strengthened and our Cuban friends agree," Fabius said.
 
Fabius was scheduled to return to France on Saturday evening, having previously visited Mexico.
 
Bilateral trade last year was $388 million (280 million euros), according to the French government, involving mainly wheat exports to Cuba.
 
Construction and engineering firm Bouygues, beverage maker Pernod-Ricard, the Accor tourism corporation and energy company Total, all have investments in Cuba and are among 60 French firms operating in the country.
 
France has also been leading efforts by the Paris Club of creditor nations to resume debt negotiations with Havana, broken off in 2000.
 
The EU agreed in February to begin negotiations with Cuba to increase trade, investment and dialogue on human rights in its most significant diplomatic shift since it lifted sanctions on the country in 2008.
 
The talks are scheduled to begin on April 29 in Havana, according to European diplomats, who said the French foreign minister's visit would test the waters.
 
Cuba has been subject to a U.S. embargo for five decades. It is eager to eliminate the EU's "common position," enacted in December 1996, which links human rights and democratic conditions to improved economic relations.
 
To do so, the two sides will have to reach a new accord agreeable to all 28 EU member states, including Poland and the Czech Republic, which have taken a harder line on Cuba given their own communist pasts.
 
(Reporting by Marc Frank; Additional reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes; Editing by Dan Grebler, James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney)
Maritime Reporter June 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Energy

Japan's MHI Bags Indian Oil's LNG Storage Tank Contract

Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has awarded a contract to build two football stadium-sized liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tanks at its upcoming Ennore LNG import terminal

Gazprom, Gasunie Sign Framework Agreement - LNG

At a Meeting between Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee and Han Fennema, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of Gasunie a Framework

NAMEPA Welcomes Hadjipateras of Dorian

Clay Maitland, Founding Chairman of the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) announced today, “NAMEPA welcomes our newest board member,

News

Carnival Vista Floated Out!

The Carnival Vista has completed its dry dock phase and was recently floated out to a new location at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard, Carnival Cruise Line has announced.

Tony Abbott Guarantees Submarine Jobs

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has assured South Australians there will be more submarine jobs here even if he won’t commit to having a new fleet of vessels built there,

GAIL to Offer Sops for Foreign Shipbuilders

GAIL India will offer foreign shipbuilders five years to make liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers in India, double the time allowed to deliver ships from their home shipyards,

People in the News

Tony Abbott Guarantees Submarine Jobs

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has assured South Australians there will be more submarine jobs here even if he won’t commit to having a new fleet of vessels built there,

Buoys in Disputed Waters Roil South China Sea Dispute

Buoys stretched "as far as eye could see" - Philippine sailor. The Philippine navy recently found a large steel marker bearing Chinese inscriptions and hundreds

K&L Gates Welcomes Martinko

The Washington D.C., office of global law firm K&L Gates LLP has welcomed Stephen Martinko as a government affairs counselor in the public policy and law practice.

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1620 sec (6 req/sec)