French leader in Mexico Amid Strained Ties

French President Francois Hollande arrived in Mexico City late Wednesday for a trip aimed at renewing relations that were rocked by the case of a Frenchwoman accused of kidnapping.

Hollande landed in the Mexican capital just before midnight for a two-day state visit that will include talks with President Enrique Pena Nieto, a visit to pre-Hispanic pyramids and a tour of a French aviation industry factories in central Mexico.

The two countries will sign 30 agreements during the visit in fields ranging from aerospace to energy, security and education, Mexican officials said.

“It is a very important visit. It is a great reunion between Mexico and France,” Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos de Icaza told reporters on Tuesday.

French officials say a key part of the trip will be to turn the page for good on the strains caused by the arrest of Florence Cassez in 2005, when different governments were in power in both nations.

The Frenchwoman was sentenced to 60 years in prison over her alleged involvement with a gang of kidnappers that was led by her ex-boyfriend.

Relations reached a low in February 2011, when Mexican authorities pulled out of a “Year of Mexico” cultural event in France after then-president Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to dedicate it to Cassez, angering his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon.

After seven years behind bars, Cassez was released and returned to France in January 2013 when the Supreme Court ruled that police had violated her rights by broadcasting her arrest on national television.

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