February 3, 2015 / 5:55 AM / 5 years ago

Cuba's Fidel Castro appears in first photographs since August

HAVANA (Reuters) - Photographs of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in official media on Monday for the first time since August, showing him slightly hunched over while seated, but appearing animated as he spoke with a student leader.

Speculation over Castro’s health has intensified since the historic Dec. 17 announcement by his younger brother, and current president, Raul Castro, and U.S. President Barack Obama, that the two longtime adversaries would restore diplomatic ties.

Castro, who periodically writes a column, went silent after the announcement until finally commenting a week ago, when he offered lukewarm support for the pact his brother reached with Obama.

The pictures of Castro with student leader Randy Perdomo were taken on Jan. 23, according to Perdomo’s account, which appeared with the photos on the website of the Communist Party newspaper Granma on Monday night.

Granma published 21 pictures of the two men talking, with Castro in various poses of engaged conversation, viewing a video and flipping through a newspaper.

A Brazilian theologian who met Castro last week said the former leader was in good health, appearing skinny but lucid.

Castro stepped down from power due to poor health, handing over to his brother provisionally in 2006 and definitively in 2008. Though he receives visitors, he has not appeared in public for more than a year.

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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