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Monday, December 28, 1998 Published at 14:19 GMT

World: Americas

Pope's Christmas message for Castro

The Pope has sent a letter to the Cuban president, Fidel Castro, thanking him for restoring Christmas as a public holiday for the first time in thirty years.

The Pope, who made a visit to the island in January and was a critic of communism during the first years of his pontificate, sent a telegram to Castro last week but it was only made public today.

The Cuban authorities say they abolished the holiday in 1969, saying people had to keep working on the sugar harvest.

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