Cuban President Raul Castro returned home on Wednesday afternoon after a major state visit to France.
During his trip to France, Castro and French President Francois Hollande signed several bilateral agreements aimed at strengthening the economic ties between the nations.
On Monday, an agreement was signed that converted $230 million of Cuba’s $390 million remaining debt to France into a fund that would finance French-Cuban development projects on the island.
There are currently around 60 French companies operating in Cuba, including shipping and construction companies.
The two countries also signed an agreement which would allow France to open a public financial institution in Havana that can make loans to public and private entities for development projects.
In addition, Cuba and France signed declarations of intent concerning cooperation in the areas of tourism and the development of fair trade.
Mr. Castro also met with other French officials and business leaders, as well as the director general of UNESCO during his trip.
During Mr. Castro’s visit, Mr. Hollande once again called on the U.S. to lift the economic embargo against Cuba, telling journalists that “President Obama … must now follow through and allow this vestige of the Cold War to end.”
On Tuesday, the two countries signed an agreement aimed at monitoring the air quality in an effort to reduce contamination on the island.
Environment S.A., a French transnational company, will construct equipment that will measure atmospheric contamination and administer technical counseling for its operation, the agreement states.