Chavez stops in Cuba, meets with Fidel Castro
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made his second whirlwind visit to Cuba in less than a week and met behind closed doors for two and a half hours with ailing former leader Fidel Castro, state media reported Sunday. Chavez's stopover had not been previously announced, but the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde said he landed in Havana Saturday evening and left hours later. He was greeted at the airport by 77-year-old Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother as president in February. The newspaper published a photo of Chavez shaking hands with a serious-faced Raul Castro. There were no images of the ailing, 82-year-old Fidel, who has not been seen in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. Juventud Rebelde said Chavez discussed his recent tour of China, Russia and Europe with the Castro brothers, but did not give specific details on what it described as a "fraternal" encounter. Back in Caracas later Sunday, Chavez said in a speech broadcast on Venezuelan state television that "Fidel is stronger than ever."
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