HAVANA, Jul 29th (AFP) French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Saturday in Havana that his visit to Cuba on Sunday aimed to “strengthen” relations between two countries.
“We are in a very positive, dynamic relationship, and my visit aims to deepen this dynamic and strengthen it,” said Le Drian to his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez, who received him at the Foreign Ministry.
The visit continued at the presidential palace where Mr. Le Drian met the new Cuban President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, “in a cordial climate,” according to an official statement read on national television.
“Both sides stressed the good state of their relations and expressed the desire to see a high-level political dialogue continue,” he added.
The two men described as “favorable” the development of economic and trade relations between the two countries and recognized “the growing role of French companies” in the local economy, mainly in the sectors of energy, transport and energy. construction.
Thirty French companies are located in Cuba.
This trip to the Caribbean island is the first of a representative of the French government since the election of Emmanuel Macron as president in May 2017.
The head of French diplomacy is also the first European foreign minister to visit Havana since Miguel Diaz-Canel took over the Cuban presidency in April.
Before meeting with President Diaz-Canel, Mr. Le Drian stressed to his Cuban counterpart that his visit to Havana was “in continuity” with those of former Presidents Francois Hollande in Cuba in May 2015 and Raul Castro in France in February 2016.
In a relaxed atmosphere, Jean-Yves Le Drian congratulated Mr. Rodriguez for having been reappointed, which he has held since 2009.
“You are already a veteran in your duties, not as advanced as (Sergei) Lavrov, but you are on the right track,” he jokingly said in reference to the highly experienced Russian Foreign Minister, who was on Tuesday in Paris.
In the same jesting tone, Mr. Rodriguez told him that he had never “entered the national defense sector”, referring to the position of Defense Minister previously held by Mr. Le Drian.
“We very much appreciate the development of bilateral relations that are a priority for Cuba,” Rodriguez said.
He said that Cuba appreciates and recognizes France’s leadership in Cuba’s relations with the European Union, in the multilateral field and “particularly in the fight against climate change”.
“We recognize the French position on the blockade that hampers economic ties between Europe and our country,” he added, referring to the US embargo on Cuba, which has been in force since 1962.
Before the end of his trip to Latin America, which had started in Colombia, he was scheduled to meet Cuban Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca and visit the historic center of Havana.