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Cuban Foreign Minister Says Fidel Castro Is Recovering Well

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ Cuba's ailing leader, Fidel Castro, is steadily recovering from his undisclosed illness and is getting stronger every day, the Cuban foreign minister said Friday.

``President Fidel Castro is recovering very well,'' Felipe Roque told reporters after an hour-long meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Gia Khiem.

The 80-year-old Castro hasn't made any public appearances since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery last July, when he ceded his leadership responsibilities to his brother Raul, the Cuban defense minister.

Castro's condition and exact ailment remain a state secret, but he is widely believed to suffer from diverticular disease, a weakening of the walls of the colon that can cause sustained bleeding.

Roque said Castro was back to his pre-surgery weight, did regular rehabilitation exercises and had resumed some of his leadership duties.

``He receives reports about the country's situation and is directly involved in managing some important issues,'' Roque said.

Roque arrived in Hanoi from India Friday on the second leg of a three-nation Asian tour. He was scheduled to travel to China on Sunday.

Vietnam and Cuba, two of the world's last communist-led nations, remain close ideological allies, but have few economic ties.

Roque said he was in Vietnam to prepare for an upcoming visit to Cuba by Vietnam's Communist Party chief, Nong Duc Manh.
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