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Fidel Castro appears again, warns of war

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro took his warning of impending nuclear war to Cuba’s Foreign Ministry on Friday, where he explained the reasons for his dire prediction in his fifth public appearance in 10 days.

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (2nd L) stands with trainers of Havana's National Aquarium during a visit July 15, 2010. Castro has been seen only in occasional photographs and videos since he underwent emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006 and ceded power provisionally to his younger brother, Raul Castro. He resigned in February 2008 and Raul Castro was officially elected president by the National Assembly. REUTERS/Revolution Studios

Castro’s sudden re-emergence after four years in seclusion has raised questions about what it all means. But his message has been consistent -- a devastating war is at hand if the United States, in alliance with Israel, tries to enforce international sanctions against Iran for its nuclear activities.

He also has predicted the United States will attack North Korea.

His latest outing was reported on state-run website, which said he met with Cuban ambassadors at the ministry in Havana and that a videotape of the session would be shown on Friday evening on national television.

It said Castro, 83, talked with the ambassadors for 1-1/2 hours, during which he showed them news reports and political analyses that were the basis of his prediction. He also fielded questions, the report said.

Foreign Ministry employees and people from the surrounding neighborhood gave him a spontaneous send-off with a “prolonged ovation and emotional (shouts of) ‘Viva’” as he left, it said.

Castro disappeared from public view following emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006 and ceded power to his younger brother, now President Raul Castro.

He resurfaced on July 7 at a scientific research center in Havana and has since made several appearances in person and in a videotaped television interview.

Theories abound about why the man who ruled Cuba for 49 years after taking power in a 1959 revolution has returned to public view. The only things known are that he keeps pushing his warning of war and that it all coincides with Cuba’s biggest release of political prisoners since 1998, in a deal cut with the Catholic Church.

The Church announced on July 7 that 52 political prisoners, or about a third of the island’s jailed dissidents, would be freed over the next few months.

Castro’s videotaped interview was aired on Monday and drew international attention away from the start of the prisoner releases that same day.

Other speculation is that Castro is sending a message of stability at a time of uncertainty about Cuba’s future, that he felt his warning of war was being ignored, or that he simply wanted to return to the limelight.

Some have theorized that Raul Castro has health problems and Fidel Castro is preparing for a return to power.

The theories are simply speculation for now, because the Cuban government has said nothing except for the reports of his visits in state-run media.

Reporting by Jeff Franks; Editing by Chris Wilson