French President Francois Hollande urged the United States on Monday to end its five-decade long trade embargo on Cuba, while pledging his country's continued support as the communist nation reforms its economy.
Hollande arrived in Havana Monday, becoming the first Western leader to visit Cuba since Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama announced last December that they would seek to end more than five decades of Cold War-related bitterness.
Speaking at the University of Havana, the French president said Paris will do what it can to see that "the measures that have damaged Cuba's development" can finally be repealed. Hollande, who is also the first French head of state to visit Cuba, was accompanied by large a delegation of French business leaders who are eager to expand the two nation's current $400 million trade relationship.
Hollande signed a series of bilateral trade and educational agreements with Cuban officials. He also met separately with Castro and his brother, ailing revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who the French president described as "a man who made history."
Hollande's trip to Cuba is part of a multi-nation tour of the Caribbean. He leaves early Tuesday for the former French colony of Haiti.