Cuba releases new photos of Fidel Castro

Feb 03, 2015, 2:26 AM EST
Randy Garcia Perdomo, the leader of a students' union, speaks with former Cuban President Fidel Castro (R) during a visit to Castro's residence on January 23, 2015 in Havana, in this image from the official website www.cubadebate.cu
AFP/Getty Images

Photographs of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in official media on Monday for the first time since August, Reuters reports, showing him slightly hunched over while seated, but appearing animated as he spoke with a student leader. Speculation over Castro's health has intensified since the historic Dec. 17 announcement by his younger brother, and current president, Raul Castro, and U.S. President Barack Obama, that the two longtime adversaries would restore diplomatic ties.

Castro, who periodically writes a column, went silent after the announcement until finally commenting a week ago, when he offered lukewarm support for the pact his brother reached with Obama.

The pictures of Castro with student leader Randy Perdomo were taken on Jan. 23, according to Perdomo's account, which appeared with the photos on the website of the Communist Party newspaper Granma on Monday night. Granma published 21 pictures of the two men talking, with Castro in various poses of engaged conversation, viewing a video and flipping through a newspaper.

Reuters is also reporting that Cuba warned the United States it wants American diplomats to scale back aid for Cuban dissidents before the two countries can reopen embassies in each other's capitals. The long-time adversaries are negotiating the restoration of diplomatic relations as a first step toward reversing more than five decades of confrontation.

Officials for both governments met in Havana in January and a second round of talks is expected to be held in Washington this month. But Cuba's lead negotiator said in an interview broadcast on state television that if the United States wants free movement for its diplomats in Cuba, it must stop using them to support the political opposition.