Visiting French President Francois Hollande on Monday urged the U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba to be lifted as they have caused “so much damage.”
“France should do whatever is necessary to allow new decisions to be made, that confirms the opening up of Cuba, so that these sanctions that are so damaging to Cuba can at last come to an end so that every country can be respected for its own identity,” said Hollande at the University of Havana during a conference attended by Cuban Vice President Miguel Diaz Canel.
The French leader said his country had always opposed the U.S. economic embargo on the Caribbean island nation which has been in force since 1962.
Since 1992, France has voted in favor of lifting the ban at the United Nations.
While claiming the sanctions have “blocked Cuban development,” Hollande expressed his intention to reinforce and boost Paris- Havana relations.
Hollande arrived late Sunday night in the Cuban capital of Havana, accompanied by executives of French companies and government officials. This marks the first visit from a French head of State to Cuba.
Hollande’s visit is also the first visit made by a Western European president to the island in more than 55 years and the first since December when U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced they would restore diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Hollande’s agenda for Monday also included having official talks with his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, and opening the new headquarters of the French Alliance in Havana, dedicated to promoting French culture abroad.
Currently, France is Cuba’s 11th most important trading partner, with bilateral ties concentrated on trading food and industrial products, tourism, telecommunication and transport. Enditem