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Fidel Castro makes rare appearance in parliament

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-08-07

Cuba's former communist strongman leader Fidel Castro delivered a speech in parliament on Saturday, marking his first official appearance in four years.

REUTERS - Former Cuban President Fidel Castro addressed a session of the island's parliament for the first time in four years on Saturday, crowning a spate of recent public appearances after a long period of seclusion.

Castro, dressed in a long-sleeved green military shirt without rank insignias, was greeted by a standing ovation and shouts of "Viva Fidel" as he entered the National Assembly. He was helped by aides to walk in.

It was the first time that the bearded, historic leader of Cuba's revolution, who turns 84 this month, had participated in a public government meeting since 2006, when he fell ill and underwent intestinal surgery. The parliament session was broadcast live by Cuban state television.

Castro was attending a special assembly session he had requested to debate his warnings that the world is on the brink of a nuclear war due to U.S. moves against Iran.

Standing at the podium, Castro read a prepared statement saying that the nuclear confrontation could break out if U.S. President Barack Obama ordered an attack on Iran if Tehran resisted U.S. and Israeli efforts to enforce international sanctions against it for its nuclear activities.

He spoke in a firm, clear but sometimes halting voice.

In his 12-minute speech, Castro also referred to the case of one of five convicted Cuban spies jailed in the United States, Gerardo Hernandez, saying he hoped his wife would be allowed to visit him or that he could even be released.

In 2008, Fidel Castro formally handed over the presidency of communist-ruled Cuba to his younger brother Raul Castro, who also attended the assembly session.

Following his 2006 illness, Fidel Castro disappeared from public view and was only seen occasionally in photographs and videos. But since July 7, he has emerged from four years of seclusion and has made several public appearances.

This has ignited widespread speculation that Castro wants to be more active again in the day-to-day life of Cuba.

Date created : 2010-08-07

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