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Published: Friday January 10, 2014 MYT 3:50:10 AM
Updated: Friday January 10, 2014 MYT 3:51:11 AM

Fidel Castro, 87, makes rare public appearance

HAVANA (Reuters) - Former Cuban President Fidel Castro made a surprise appearance on Wednesday evening at the opening of a Havana cultural centre sponsored by one of his favourite Cuban artists.

State television on Thursday broadcast images of Castro arriving at the cultural centre in a blue van, to the applause of local residents.

The bearded, grey haired Cuban leader, 87, was also shown sitting and chatting with Alexis Leyva, the painter and sculptor known as Kcho, and others attending the opening.

A witness, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters a stooped Castro arrived in the evening and entered the building with the help of aides and a cane, after briefly talking with well wishers in the Playa municipality of Havana.

The reclusive Castro was last seen in public in April 2013 at the inauguration of a school in Havana.

Castro lives in a villa on the outskirts of Havana where he regularly receives guests, but photos are rare and only occasionally do his writings appear in the local media.

He is reportedly still lucid and curious.

Castro governed the Caribbean island for 48 years before falling gravely ill in 2006 and handing power to his brother Raul Castro, who officially became president in 2008.

(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Tom Brown and Andre Grenon)

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