Fidel Castro meets Vice President Hamid Ansari for an unprecedented meeting. Nikhil Lakshman reports from Havana.
Fidel Castro is alive and well.
After not being seen in public for 142 days, since June 9 -- speculating rumours of his demise in the international media -- the 87-year-old leader of the Cuban Revolution met with Vice President Hamid Ansari at his home in Havana on Wednesday afternoon.
Castro met Ansari, the vice president's wife Salma Ansari, and India's Ambassador to Cuba Chintapally Rajasekhar for an unprecedented 65 minutes. Cuban Minister Bruno Parilla was also present. Ansari also met Cuban President Raul Castro for 75 minutes.
Fidel Castro does not usually meet with visitors -- he reportedly met Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa (external link) on September 21 -- and his meeting with Ansari is yet another indication of the warmth that the retired Cuban leader has for India, a country he last visited for the Non Aligned Movement summit in New Delhi in March 1983.
Ansari, then a diplomat, was chief of India's protocol, had welcomed Castro at New Delhi airport. He recalled in response to a question from Rediff.com on Friday then prime minister Indira Gandhi's instructions that no effort must be spared in giving Castro whatever he wanted during his visit.