French foreign minister meets Raul Castro on historic visit to Cuba

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France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius reads a document before a news conference in HavanaBy Marc Frank HAVANA (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. 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.