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France to modernise Haiti’s education system

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti--French President François Hollande has promised to finance a large-scale education programme to modernise Haiti's education system.

Hollande, who arrived here on Tuesday, is also scheduled to sign several agreements with Haitian President Michel Martelly including one that will allow the exportation of organically grown bananas to Europe.

In a brief speech following Hollande's arrival, Martelly attempted to end a debate in Haiti about whether relations can be rebuilt with France – its former colonial power – without demanding reparations.

"No negotiation, no compensation can repair the wounds of history that still mark us today," Martelly said.

"Haiti has not forgotten, but Haiti is not stubborn," he added.

Hollande, in his short speech said, "You're not asking for aid, you want development ... you're not asking for welfare, you want investment."

The French President also reiterated his country's commitment to long-term cooperation when he visited the Haitian State University Hospital, most of which was destroyed in the January 2010 earthquake.

France and the United States pledged US $25 million for the hospital project which should be completed in 2017.

In another significant move earlier in the week, Hollande announced that Haiti's debt would be forgiven.

His visit marks the end of a five-day Caribbean tour.

This is the second time that a sitting French president has visited the French-speaking Caribbean nation, which declared its independence from France on January 1, 1804. ~ Jamaica Observer ~

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