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Saturday, 12 May, 2001, 21:38 GMT 22:38 UK
Castro has rare praise for Powell
Fidel Castro in Malaysia
Castro has received a warm welcome during his visit
Well known for his fierce opposition to the United States, Cuban President Fidel Castro has praised its Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

During the second day of his visit to Malaysia, the Cuban leader surprised reporters by describing Mr Powell as a man with "his own character and authority".


I do not think he [Colin Powell] is a warmonger. He is the only one that has dared say that Cuba has done something good

Fidel Castro
He said Mr Powell was the only one who had dared say Cuba had done something good - a reference to a comment made by the secretary of state last month that the Castro government had done good things for the Cuban people.

But both Mr Powell and President Castro tempered their praise for each other.

While, the US secretary of state added to his statement that Mr Castro remained trapped in a timewarp - the Cuban leader noted that Mr Powell had to "pursue the same line as his government".

However guarded, the praise is considered a rarity in a relationship marked by four decades of mutual animosity and a strict US trade embargo against Havana.

Friendly audiences

Only a day before, Mr Castro was praising Malaysian leaders for speaking out against globalisation and the influence of Western countries such as the US.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Powell: "Castro has done good things for the Cuban people"
"We are the rebels of the West, and Malaysia is the rebel of the East," he told Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad, an outspoken critic of global financial institutions.

President Castro has also been visiting Algeria and Iran, where he has been presenting his anti-US stance to friendly audiences.

In Tehran, he issued a joint statement with the Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, condemning terrorism and the US sanctions.

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See also:

08 May 01 | Middle East
Iran's red carpet for Castro
22 Apr 01 | Americas
US ship cancels Cuba visit
21 Jul 00 | Americas
US moves to lift Cuba sanctions
19 Oct 00 | Americas
Castro: The great survivor
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