June 8, 2007 / 6:05 PM / 12 years ago

Castro says Bush tries to fool Pope on Iraq

U.S. President George W. Bush (L) and his wife Laura wave as they leave Air Force One at Rome's Fiumicino International airport June 8, 2007. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito

HAVANA (Reuters) - Convalescing Cuban leader Fidel Castro accused U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday of planning to deceive Pope Benedict over the war in Iraq.

In his latest musings on international affairs, Castro said Bush would try to fool the pontiff into believing that the United States had done no wrong in Iraq when he visits Rome on Saturday.

“Bush is trying now to deceive Pope Benedict XVI,” Castro wrote in a column printed in the Communist Party daily Granma.

“The Iraq war doesn’t exist, it hasn’t cost a cent, there’s not a single drop of blood, and hundreds of thousands of innocent people have not died in a shameful exchange of lives for oil and gas,” Bush will tell the Pope, Castro wrote.

Castro predicted Bush would also hide the danger of another war against Iran, with the possible use of “tactical nuclear strikes to impose the same shameful recipe.”

Bush is expected to raise the issue of democratic change in communist Cuba with the Pope at the Vatican.

Castro, 80, has not appeared in public since he was sidelined from power 10 months ago by intestinal illness.

He has returned to public life by writing articles, 15 so far, that are printed in Cuba’s state-run newspapers and read repeatedly on newscasts.

His writings are mostly scathing attacks on Bush, who tightened sanctions against Cuba in 2004 to undermine Castro and press for a transition to multi-party democracy.

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