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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 October 2007, 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK
Castro speaks live on Chavez show
Photo released of Fidel Castro meeting Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez 13/10/07

Cuban President Fidel Castro has spoken live on television for the first time since handing over power last year as he underwent a serious operation.

Mr Castro spoke by phone on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's weekly chat show, being broadcast from Cuba.

Mr Chavez is in the country to mark the 40th anniversary of the killing of revolutionary icon Ernesto Che Guevara.

Mr Castro phoned to discuss the Guevara legacy, and the two leaders laughed and joked together for several minutes.

Video footage from a meeting between Mr Chavez and the Cuban leader, said to have been filmed on Saturday, was also shown during the programme.

'Father of revolutionaries'

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Havana said Mr Castro's voice was strong and he sounded like he was on the road to recovery.

The Cuban leader has not appeared in public since surgery forced him to cede power to his brother, Raul, last year.

In the video footage, Mr Chavez is seen singing hymns to Mr Castro and calling him "father of all revolutionaries".

The Cuban leader said he was moved by the tribute, and went on to praise Che Guevara as a "harvester of ideas".

After the tape was aired, Mr Chavez spoke to Mr Castro on the phone and told him: "Everyone is electrified to hear you."

The programme was broadcast from Guevara mausoleum in the Cuban city of Santa Clara.

In September, pictures of Mr Castro were broadcast on Cuban TV, ending rumours that he had died or suffered a major relapse.

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