Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denied Friday that Fidel Castro has cancer and said the ailing Cuban leader is eating cautiously and feels well enough to joke.
Castro's medical condition is being kept a state secret, and Cuban officials insisted he is recovering. But US officials say they believe he suffers from some kind of inoperable cancer and will not live through the end of 2007.
"Fidel does not have cancer. I'm very well informed... he has instructed them to inform me of all the details of what is happening," Chavez said during a speech in Caracas.
Castro, 80, has not been seen publicly since July, when he temporarily handed power over to his younger brother Raul so he could recover from intestinal surgery.