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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 04:16 GMT
Castro's ailment 'is not cancer'
Fidel Castro. Picture issued 28 October 2006.
Castro has not been seen in public since surgery in July
A leading Spanish surgeon who flew to Havana last week to examine Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he does not have cancer or need further surgery.

On returning to Spain, Jose Luis Garcia Sobredo said Mr Castro was recovering well and was in good spirits.

Dr Garcia went to Havana in response to a humanitarian request from the Cuban government, a Spanish official said.

The president, who is 80, is recuperating from surgery he underwent in July to stop intestinal bleeding.

Dr Garcia is an expert on intestinal ailments, particularly cancer.

Of Mr Castro, he said: "His physical activity is excellent, his intellectual activity intact, I'd say fantastic, he's recovering from his previous operation.

"He asks every day to return to work, but doctors advise him not to, to take it easy."

Mr Castro has placed his younger brother, Raul, in charge of the government.

State secret

Although Mr Castro's health is a state secret, Cuban officials have said that he is not suffering from cancer or any terminal illness, and that he is recuperating.

Since Mr Castro temporarily stood down from power almost five months ago, there has been no shortage of speculation as to what he might be suffering from.

Unnamed US officials have told US media that it is cancer, possibly in its terminal stages.

But earlier this month, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez strenuously denied that his long-time friend and ally was suffering from the disease.

Cuban government officials, including the country's foreign minister, gave the same message to a visiting group from the US Congress last week.

The surgeon comments on Castro's health

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