Cuban President Raul Castro is paying a state visit to France, in the first European foray by a Cuban leader in two decades, as Cuba opens up its economy.
The trip comes after a breakthrough deal was reached in Paris in December lightening Cuba's foreign debt — and days after France hosted the leader of another long-time pariah state: Iran.
Castro is receiving a formal welcome at the Arc de Triomphe monument Monday and will attend a state dinner with French President Francois Hollande. The Cuban delegation is also meeting French business leaders and the UNESCO chief.
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The French government was instrumental in securing the debt relief deal. Hollande was the first French leader to visit Cuba in half a century, with a trip in May aimed at boosting trade.