Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez stops in Cuba, meets privately with Fidel Castro

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: November 21, 2007

HAVANA: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stopped in Cuba to meet with ailing leader Fidel Castro and his brother Raul on Wednesday on a return home from an international tour, official media reported.

The Prensa Latina news agency said in a brief dispatch that Chavez told the brothers about his trip to Iran, the OPEC meeting in Saudi Arabia, France and Portugal. The Venezuelan president was headed home later Wednesday.

The 81-year-old Fidel Castro stepped aside in mid-2006 following emergency intestinal surgery and granted provisional power to Raul, the 76-year-old defense minister and his constitutionally designated successor.

Chavez considers Castro a close friend and political ally, and has visited him numerous times during his convalescence. Castro has not appeared in public since falling ill 16 months ago.

Chavez is scheduled to return to Cuba in December to help inaugurate an oil refinery that the two governments renovated in a partnership.

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