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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 01:33 GMT
Cuban TV shows 'stronger' Castro
Fidel Castro
Mr Castro said: "This is far from being a lost battle"
Cuban television has shown its first pictures for three months of ailing leader Fidel Castro.

Mr Castro, 80, was seen standing during a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, which was said to have taken place on Monday.

He appeared frail but stronger than three months ago.

Mr Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing gastric surgery in July, prompting speculation that he has cancer or is terminally ill.

'Socialism or death'

The pictures show Mr Castro drinking orange juice and joking with Mr Chavez.

We will triumph - fatherland, socialism or death
Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez

"As I have said, this is far from being a lost battle," he says to the Venezuelan leader, whose visit had not been announced.

Mr Chavez replies that this is a battle that will be won.

The two wrapped up their meeting with the words: "We will triumph. Fatherland, socialism or death."

Mr Castro's younger brother, Raul, has been acting as president since July.

State secret

The state of Mr Castro's health has been the subject of much speculation.

The most regular pronouncements on his health have come from his Venezuelan ally Hugo Chavez.

Last week he showed a letter signed by Fidel Castro which he said was proof that the Cuban president was recovering.

Mr Castro's health is treated as a state secret in Cuba.

Authorities have denied the claims of US intelligence officials that he has terminal cancer but will only say that Mr Castro is recuperating satisfactorily.

Earlier this month, President Chavez denied a report in a Spanish newspaper that said Mr Castro's prognosis was very grave after three failed operations.

A Spanish surgeon who travelled to Cuba last month to examine Mr Castro also said the report was "without foundation".

Castro appears on Cuban TV

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