Fidel Castro’s (photo) first video in five months has been broadcast on Cuban state television.
Since February, when Cuba’s former leader relinquished power to Raul, his younger brother, no pictures of Fidel had been broadcast. And he has not been seen in public since July 2006, when he fell ill.
In the silent footage, we can see Mr Castro at a meeting with his brother and Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s president, in Havana on Monday.
He had discussed issues like the food and energy crises, said Mr Chavez.
“Fidel is sitting there, alive and well, thinking, writing and dictating important strategies for Cuba and our Latin America”, Mr Chavez told reporters on Monday.
During three hours, state media earlier said, the former leader had held “animated and friendly” talks with his staunchest ally.
In the video, Fidel Castro is wearing a Cuban national team track suit and is shown sitting, as well as on his feet.
To the BBC’s Michael Voss in Havana, the 81-year-old appears thinner, and his hair and beard are sparser and whiter.
But state media did not give details about his state of health.
The ailing revolutionary was last seen in a video on 16 January, when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazilian president, visited Cuba.
Michael Voss, BBC’s correspondent, says rumours have been fed by Fidel Castro’s absence from the public eye. Rumours said that his health was failing, especially after a gap of two weeks in early May without any of his regular newspaper editorials.