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Castro ends silence on Cuba-US thaw

Former president Fidel Castro has broken his silence over Cuba and the United States' move to restore full diplomatic relations, saying that although he does not trust Washington's politics, differences between the nations should be resolved through co-operation.

Mr Castro, 88, made the comments in a statement sent to a student federation and read at the University of Havana.

"I don't trust the politics of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts," he wrote.

He said he would always defend co-operation and friendship among the world's peoples, including Cuba's adversaries.

They are the first comments Mr Castro has made on the negotiations launched by his brother, President Raul Castro.

Margarita Stolbizer, an opposition member of congress, told Todo Noticias that b efore there were any reforms to the intelligence services, the government "should explain the 11 years it has managed" them.

"The speech was filled with imprecise (statements) and lies," she said. "She did not give answers to the doubts about this government nor about the content of Nisman's denouncement."

Two weeks ago, Fidel Castro sent a letter to Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona to quash rumours of his death. At the time, it was the first reported word from him in nearly three months. The letter was read on Venezuela's state television network Telesur.

A serious illness forced Mr Castro to step down from duties as president in 2006, handing over leadership to younger brother Raul.

The speculation about Fidel's health had been prompted in part by his failure to comment after the US and Cuba declared on December 17 that they would move to restore full diplomatic relations broken 50 years ago.

The latest statement from Fidel was dated January 26.

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