Sunday, June 03, 2007

Cuba shows new images of Castro


BBC

Last Updated: Sunday, 3 June 2007, 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK

By Stephen Gibbs
BBC News, Havana

Cuban TV has shown brief video images of President Fidel Castro meeting the head of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Nong Duc Manh.

The Cuban leader has not appeared in public since he was taken ill with a stomach complaint last July.

These were the first video images for four months.

He is shown in a tracksuit, standing, and appearing less frail than in previous official images - and fit enough to give his guest a warm hug.

Cuban television says that the men met for two hours, discussing issues of mutual interest.

Fidel Castro's health is a state secret but he is widely assumed to be suffering from diverticulitis, a weakening of the intestine.

In one of several recent articles he has written in the country's main daily newspaper, the 80-year-old said that since last July he had undergone several operations, the first of which was not successful.

Senior Cuban government officials say that President Castro is well on the way to a total recovery but they do not say whether that means he might yet resume all his duties.

Currently his brother Raul is acting president of Cuba.

Many Cubans assume that that is the way things will remain, with Fidel Castro in an elder statesman role, far less visible than he has been for most of his 48-year rule of Cuba.

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