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Castro does not have terminal illness: officials

india Updated: Dec 18, 2006 04:28 IST

Cuban officials told a group of visiting US lawmakers that ailing Fidel Castro did not have cancer or terminal illness, marking the most comprehensive denial by officials of rampant rumors about the leader's health, the head of the US delegation said on Sunday.

Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, said that Cuban officials did not provide further details on the 80-year-old leader's health, but did say that he will eventually return to public life.

"All the officials have told us is that his illness is not cancer, nor is it terminal, and he will be back," Flake told told in a telephone interview.

Castro's medical condition has been a state secret since he underwent surgery for intestinal bleeding in late July, and temporarily ceded power to his younger brother Raul Castro. He has not been seen publicly since July 26.

Cuban officials have repeatedly insisted that the elder Castro is recovering, and Vice President Carlos Lage previously shot down reports that the leader was suffering from stomach cancer. But officials have not publicly denied rumors that he could have another type of cancer or some other terminal illness.

US officials have said that they believe that Castro suffers from some kind of inoperable cancer and will not live through the end of 2007. Some US doctors have speculated that he could have a colon condition called diverticulosis, which is relatively common among older people.