International Herald Trubune
The Associated Press
Published: October 12, 2007
CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced plans to travel to Cuba late Friday to meet with his close friend and ally Fidel Castro.
During a speech to an indigenous group in western Venezuela, Chavez said his time there was limited, because he had to leave soon for Havana.
"The one I have to see tonight is Fidel, but he'll wait for me," Chavez said. "From here I'm leaving for Cuba."
Chavez said he planned to discuss efforts to advance a regional integration initiative known as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, and would meet with Castro's brother Raul "and the entire high government of Cuba."
On Sunday, the Venezuelan leader plans to host his weekly TV and radio program from Santa Clara, Cuba, where the remains of revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara are entombed under a statue in his honor.
Chavez has regularly visited the 81-year-old Castro since he underwent intestinal surgery and ceded power to his younger brother Raul more than 14 months ago.
The Venezuelan leader has frequently offered general updates on Castro's health and last month said "Fidel isn't dying." When asked about Castro's specific condition, Chavez described it as intestinal problem and said "it isn't terminal."
Chavez did not comment on Castro's health during his speech Friday.