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Castro in nuclear warning to Obama

A lively and healthy looking Fidel Castro has appealed to US President Barack Obama to prevent a global nuclear war in an emphatic speech that marked his first official government appearance since emergency surgery four years ago.

The former Cuban leader's speech before the country's parliament, along with other numerous recent public appearances, raised questions about how much he will resume a leadership role.

Mr Castro, who turns 84 in a week, arrived on the arm of a helper, waving and smiling as the crowd applauded loudly in unison.

"Fidel, Fidel, Fidel!" the participants chanted. "Long live Fidel!"

Dressed in olive-green fatigues without military insignias, he immediately took the podium and delivered a fiery 11-minute speech on his fears of an impending global nuclear war. He implored President Obama and other wealthy nations to make sure such an event never happens.

Mr Castro then took a seat next to Parliament leader Ricardo Alarcon - instead of sitting in the chair that parliament members leave empty in his honour during his absence.

Current president Raul Castro sat on the other side of the stage, where he listened intensely and took notes as his older brother spoke.

Lawmakers followed the speech with enthusiastic remarks to Fidel Castro about how fully recovered and healthy he appeared. They also commented on the topic at hand. Asked by one parliamentarian if President Obama would be capable of starting a nuclear war, Mr Castro replied: "No, not if we persuade him not to."

He patted his hand on the desk for emphasis, then fell silent, seemingly surprising a crowd long accustomed to the hours-long speeches for which he was famous during his 49 years in power.

Mr Castro's participation in the legislative session marks the revolutionary's first official government act - and his first joint appearance with Raul - since his emergency intestinal surgery in 2006.


From Belfast Telegraph