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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 September 2007, 04:39 GMT 05:39 UK
Castro seen in rare TV interview
Fidel Castro in a pre-recorded interview on Cuban state TV (21.09.07)
Authorities say the interview was recorded earlier on Friday

Cuban leader Fidel Castro has made his first TV appearance for three months, ending speculation that he had died or suffered a major relapse.

Mr Castro, 81 has not appeared in public since July last year when he underwent emergency intestinal surgery.

There have been no official photographs or video footage of him since 5 June.

In the taped interview, Mr Castro spoke slowly with long pauses about a range of topics including the strength of the euro against the dollar.

"Yesterday the euro was at $1.41. Oil I think about $84 a barrel," he said, suggesting that he was up to date on current affairs and that the interview was very recent.

He also showed a copy of a book by former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, which was published this week.

'Deathbed' rumours

The interview focused on a recent newspaper article by Mr Castro on international affairs, the risks to the global economy and criticism of the United States.

They changed nearly all his blood - Fidel is alive because he is Fidel
Hugo Chavez
Venezuelan President

He also answered a question on the state of his health.

"Well, I'm still here," he said. "And if they say I'm dying, or have died, or I'm going to die the day after tomorrow, well, no-one knows when they're going to die."

The BBC's correspondent in Havana says that Mr Castro's words are seen as less important than the fact that he has made an appearance.

Earlier on Friday, Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, said Mr Castro had undergone several blood transfusions but could "live 100 more years."

"What little problem does he have? One operation, two operations, three operations. At 81, you can imagine he almost died," he said.

"They changed nearly all his blood. Fidel is alive because he is Fidel."

Cuban officials have insisted Mr Castro is on the road to recovery.

He has been writing regular newspaper editorials but the lack of images has intensified speculation about Mr Castro's health.

His failure to appear on his birthday on 13 August fuelled rumours that he might be on his deathbed.

Mr Castro's younger brother, Raul, has been acting president since 31 July, 2006.



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