POLITICS

Francois Hollande becomes first French president to visit Cuba

French President Francois Hollande shakes hands with Cuba's Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, right, in front of Gustavo Cobreiro, University Havana rector, in Havana, Cuba, Monday, May 11, 2015. Accompanied by a group of top  French business people, Hollande has become the first French president to visit Cuba since it became an independent country, using a one-day trip to build business and diplomatic relations five months after a detente between Havana and Washington.(AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

French President Francois Hollande shakes hands with Cuba's Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, right, in front of Gustavo Cobreiro, University Havana rector, in Havana, Cuba, Monday, May 11, 2015. Accompanied by a group of top French business people, Hollande has become the first French president to visit Cuba since it became an independent country, using a one-day trip to build business and diplomatic relations five months after a detente between Havana and Washington.(AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

Francois Hollande has become the first French president to visit Cuba, using a one-day trip to build business and diplomatic relations five months after a detente between Havana and Washington.

Hollande is to meet Cuban President Raul Castro on Monday, as well as inaugurating a new building for the French cultural center,

He says France "will be a faithful ally" of Cuba as it develops and re-enters the global economic system.

And he's bringing along French business people who might help. Those include representatives of the Pernod Ricard, hotel company Accor, Air France, supermarket Carrefour and the Orange telecommunications company.

The visit follows a December announcement that the Obama administration will start to ease restrictions on Cuba after more than a half-century of hostility, opening opportunities for U.S. businesses.

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