Turkish President Abdullah Gul inspects an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Cankaya Palace in Ankara, on November 6, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN
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French President Francois Hollande cautiously backed Turkey's aim to join the European Union on Monday despite its recent crackdown on police and judiciary and earlier French reservations about the idea.In a long-planned state visit, the first by a French leader in 22 years, Hollande is seeking to mend frayed ties and smooth the way for French companies angling for contracts in Turkey. Of 35 membership "chapters" to be checked off before Turkey can join the EU, 14 have so far been completed.Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy favoured association status for Turkey over full accession, saying the country was too big, too poor and too culturally different to join the EU.
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