French minister in Cuba as Europe seeks opening

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By AP

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Updated: Sat, 12 Apr 2014 03:15:48 EST

HAVANA (AP) — A French foreign minister is visiting Cuba for the first time in 30 years at a time when the communist-led Caribbean nation is seeking to draw more foreign investment and improve ties with the European Union.

Laurent Fabius quickly met with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez after arriving Saturday.

The European Union suspended cooperation with Cuba in 2003 when the island's government jailed 75 dissidents. Dialogue resumed five years later, though it was conditioned on improvements in the human rights situation. In February, the EU's foreign ministers approved talks to negotiate a broad new political agreement with Cuba.

The French foreign ministry says Fabius will promote alliances between the two nations' firms and support French companies that want to do business in Cuba.

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