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Dr Singh meets Fidel Castro

By V S Chandrasekar in Havana
September 17, 2006 14:59 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had the privilege of meeting ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro, one of the towering personalities of the Non-Aligned Movement, in Havana.

The two leaders discussed the situation in both India and Cuba in the context of the current global scenario.

The 80-year old Castro, who is recuperating after a recent major intestinal surgery, met Dr Singh at the office of the Cuban Communist Party in Plaze de revolucion in the heart of Havana. He spoke nostalgically about his association with the late Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

During the 40-minute meeting close to midnight on Saturday, the Cuban leader enquired about the situation in India, especially energy security. He evinced interest in alternative non-conventional sources of energy and spoke of India's assistance to Cuba in this regard.

He also enquired about the food situation in the context of the shortage India had faced decades ago.

Dr Singh's spokesman Sanjaya Baru told reporters that the PM spoke at length about the situation in India.

Castro told Dr Singh that being a developing country, Cuba may not be economically rich but was rich in human resources. Earlier on Saturday, Dr Singh had met Cuban Acting President Raul Castro and discussed bilateral relations.

In the last two days, Castro, who did not attend the NAM summit due to ill-health, had received only a few visitors, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. He has been living in one of the rooms of the party office ever since he was operated upon.

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V S Chandrasekar in Havana
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