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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 April 2007, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Castro resumes official business
Fidel Castro (right) meeting a Chinese delegation in Havana
Mr Castro's health remains a state secret
Cuba's Fidel Castro has held talks with a top delegate from China in what is thought to be his first official act since his illness last year.

Mr Castro - who has handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raul - has appeared to play a greater role in Cuba over the last few weeks.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma said the talks were "fruitful".

Its website also carried a photograph of Mr Castro, standing and shaking hands with the Chinese delegation.

The latest pictures published by Cuban official media also show him talking and apparently taking notes during Friday's meeting.

Fidel Castro (left) meeting a Chinese delegation in Havana
The latest photographs show a much stronger Fidel Castro

Mr Castro's health, which remains a state secret, came under close scrutiny by international media after he had stomach surgery last July.

The Cuban president has not been seen in public since then but his ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, has been giving regular updates on his condition and recently said Mr Castro was "almost totally recovered".

The speculation now is whether Mr Castro might soon be fit enough to appear in public, reports the BBC's Stephen Gibbs in Havana.

The forthcoming International Labour Day on 1 May is one possible date. For most of the last 47 years of his rule, Mr Castro has marked the occasion with a lengthy speech in Havana's revolution square.

While few expect Mr Castro to address the crowd this year, some sort of appearance is not being ruled out, our correspondent says, Mr Castro held talks for about an hour with Wu Guanzheng, a member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo, Granma reported.

Mr Castro was handed a letter from Chinese President Hu Jintao, in which he praised the "excellent ties" between the two countries, the newspaper said.

In 2006 China became the country's second largest trading partner, with trade between the two nations worth some $1.8m (1.4m euros; 0.94m) last year.

Mr Wu is on a four-day visit to boost political and trade ties between the two communist allies.

After his meeting with Mr Castro, Mr Wu also held talks with Raul Castro.




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