Cuba and France sign a series of agreements to strenghthen economic ties between the two countries during the first state visit by a Cuban leader to France since Cuba's independence. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) France and Cuba signed a series of agreements to tighten economic ties between the two nations on Monday (February 1 Among them was a deal to ease the Caribbean island nation's bilateral debt to Paris. French President Francois Hollande welcomed Cuban President Raul Castro to Paris earlier Monday for the first official visit by a Cuban leader to the France since Cuba became independent. With ties between Washington and Havana warming, France is eager to further improve relations with Cuba. As Havana's biggest creditor, France played a key role in December in a debt relief deal between Cuba and the foreign governments it owes money to. Its Paris Club creditors agreed to forgive $8.5 billion in late interest payments of Cuba's $11.9 billion in debt, including $4 billion in late payments due to France. One of the agreements signed Monday will allow for part of the principal that Cuba still owes France to be converted into financing for development projects. Government representatives also signed a series of commercial and development agreements.