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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 June 2007, 01:44 GMT 02:44 UK
Castro almost 'fully recovered'
Fidel Castro, 21 April 2007
Castro has been out of public life for nearly a year
Cuban President Fidel Castro has almost completely recovered from the stomach surgery he had last year, says the head of the country's national assembly.

Speaking in a US TV interview Ricardo Alarcon gave no indication of when the Cuban leader might return to power.

But he said Mr Castro was over the worst after a series of operations, including what he described as very delicate surgery.

Mr Alarcon also said Mr Castro was reading and writing a lot.

The Cuban leader has not been seen in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006 and has temporarily ceded power to his brother Raul.

"I think, in a way, he practically has fully recovered," Mr Alarcon told the CNN network.

"The problem was a very delicate surgery," he went on.

"He had to have several surgeries. But it was a very risky situation. Now it is not anymore."

Bush 'threat'

Raul Castro at May Day parade
Raul Castro has taken over during his brother's illness

A week ago, Mr Castro made a statement about his health for the first time since he felt ill, saying his health was improving.

"No danger is larger than that related to ageing," said the Cuban leader, who added that the first operations he had undergone had been unsuccessful, leading to a lengthy recovery period.

In another article published earlier this week, Mr Castro wrote that US President George W Bush had said: "I'm a hard-line president and I'm only waiting for Castro to die."

"I'm not the first, nor will I be the last, that Bush has ordered to be deprived of life," wrote the Cuban president, although he did not provide any details about when Mr Bush allegedly made the remark.

Asked about US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent comment that "there must be democratic transition in Cuba, Mr Alarcon told CNN he was hoping "there will be regime change in your country".

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