ANKARA - 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.

But the visit has been overshadowed by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's efforts to tighten controls on the court system in response to a corruption probe. European leaders criticized the AK Party leader in Brussels last week, saying democratic principles needed to be upheld.

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