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French foreign minister pays rare visit to Cuba

media French foreign minist Laurent Fabius REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

France’s top diplomat Laurent Fabius is travelling to Cuba on Saturday, the first such visit in over three decades and a sign of improving ties between the European Union and Havana.

During his one-day visit, Fabius will meet his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez, with the aim of reviving bilateral relations and increasing trade between the two countries.

Fabius will also meet with Archbishop Jaime Ortega and other prominent Cuban personalities.

After a decade of sharp differences and sanctions, the visit follows Cuba’s recent agreement to open negotiations on a new political accord with the EU.

Cuba has also signaled its readiness to address human rights and wants to improve relations with the 28-member bloc.

In March, Rodriguez hailed the negotiations, which could lead to broader economic ties with the EU, as the “end of the European Union’s unilateral policies on Cuba.”

EU foreign ministers moved to improve ties with Havana to support its market-oriented reforms and to better position European companies.

Fabius is the first French diplomat of his rank to visit the Caribbean island since 1983.

The visit follows a two-day state trip to Mexico, where Fabius accompanied French President François Hollande.

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