Page last updated at 08:56 GMT, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Cuba's Fidel Castro 'doing well'

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (left) and Cuban President Raul Castro in Havan. Photo: 21 January 2009
President Fernandez said she had an hour of talks with Fidel Castro

Speculation that the health of former Cuban President Fidel Castro has worsened has been dismissed by the visiting Argentine president.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said Mr Castro, 82, seemed healthy, after she had an hour of talks with him in Havana.

Meanwhile, Cuban President Raul Castro said his older brother was "exercising, thinking a lot, reading a lot".

Fidel Castro has not appeared publicly since his intestinal surgery in 2006.

He stepped down as president in February 2008.

No new pictures

Ms Fernandez said she held talks with Fidel Castro on Wednesday, saying that he seemed healthy.

Fidel Castro with Metropolitan Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, reportedly pictured on 20 October 2008
Fidel Castro's last known photograph was released last year

"I was with Fidel about an hour," she said. "We talked a lot about [US President Barack] Obama.

"He had a very good impression of Obama and he seemed to believe what he said," she told reporters.

No pictures of the talks were immediately released.

Ms Fernandez is the first foreign leader to see Fidel Castro since Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met him on 28 November, said Associated Press news agency.

"Now you know that Fidel is fine, and not like the rumours around here," Raul Castro said, as he accompanied Mrs Fernandez to Havana's airport.

"Soon I'm going to make a trip to Europe. Do you think I could leave from here if Fidel was gravely ill?"

He said his brother was helping him with his duties.

Fidel Castro also did not attend celebrations earlier this month for the 50th anniversary of Cuba's revolution, which saw him take power.

His absence further fuelled rumours that his health had badly deteriorated.

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