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Hollande not to attend Castro funeral

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Cubans pay homage to Fidel Castroafter his death Reuters/Enrique De La Osa

French President François Hollande's office announced on Monday that he would not attend the funeral of Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro, who died on Friday night at the age of 90. He was among several heads of state to send representatives instead of attending the ceremony.


Hollande has designated his personal representative for Latin America Jean-Pierre Bel, a former president of the French Senate, to represent him at commemorations for Castro, a statement from the Elysée presidential palace said.

Bel was to arrive in Havana on Tuesday in time for a ceremony to which foreign heads of state and diplomats had been invited.Environment Minister Ségolène Royal was to arrive on Sunday, when Castro's ashes will be laid to rest in the Santa Ifigeria de Santiago de Cuba cemetery, home to the grave of independence hero Jose Marti.

Castro's death has posed a diplomatic problem to many leaders of Western countries that opposed the revolution he led and later criticised his government for its record on human rights and press freedom.

Obama, Trudeau absent

Neither US President Barack Obama, who oversaw a thaw in relations with Havana, not Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend ceremonies.

Hollande is to visit the United Arab Emirates on Thursday and Friday for an international conference on threats to international heritage, notably from terrorism.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was unable to attend the official Cuban ceremony because he was in Minsk for a meeting on Ukraine, officials said.