Castro calls in at Elyse PEOPLE

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The Independent Online
Back in Paris after a relaxing visit to Egypt on ``certainly one of my last journeys'', France's own Sphinx, Franois Mitterrand, will entertain Fidel Castro at the Elyse Palace on Monday. The Cuban leader, on his way home from the international conference on social development in Copenhagen, will make his first official visit to France - and a rare social visit to a Western leader.

In 14 years as President, the habitually inscrutable Mr Mitterrand has overseen a fairly friendly policy towards Cuba, calling the 32-year US embargo "stupid".

"I remember intervening with the last few presidents of the United States to tell them to lift this stupid embargo which no longer signifies anything and which oppresses an often unfortunate people," he said in January.

As Mr Mitterrand serves out the last months of his presidency and his life draws to an end because of cancer, he and the beleaguered Mr Castro should have much to talk about. And as they sit down to lunch, President Bill Clinton, breakfasting 3,000 miles away, will be thinking about lifting some of the US sanctions against Cuba.

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