In a slap at American policy toward Cuba, President Francois Mitterrand welcomed President Fidel Castro to Paris on Monday for a three-day private stay that has most of the hallmarks of a state visit.
Mitterrand, who has often described the U.S. blockade of Cuba as “stupid,” welcomed Castro to Elysee Palace with military honors and a formal lunch.
“I thought to myself: that’s it, the end of apartheid,” Castro told the French leader at lunch, commenting on his warm reception.
Castro flew in on Monday morning from Copenhagen and was escorted to the official government guest house, the Hotel de Marigny.
He will talk to a delegation of top French business leaders on Tuesday. Before he leaves on Wednesday, he plans to visit Chablis, in Burgundy, at the invitation of a chicken magnate who does business in Cuba.