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PM among few to meet Castro

india Updated: Sep 19, 2006 03:16 IST

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with Cuban President Fidel Castro a little before midnight Sunday, among a handful of leaders here who met with the 80-year-old leftist icon.

The one-on-one meeting meeting that began 11 p.m., lasted 45 minutes at the Cuban Communist Party office at the Palacio da la Revolucion where Castro has been staying as he recuperates from a July surgery following intestinal bleeding that left to global speculation about his and his country's future.

Castro spoke nostalgically about his association with Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, former Indian prime ministers, and wanted to know from Manmohan Singh the direction of the Indian economy and its food and energy security.

Castro was quoted as telling the prime minister that Cuba might be poor economically but was rich in human resources. He was also keen to know whether India still imported food - he seemed to lack up-to-date information on India - and what it had done in the area of non-conventional energy sources.

Castro had last visited India in 1983 for the NAM summit in New Delhi where he handed over the chairmanship to Indira Gandhi.

Castro could not be present at the 118-nation NAM summit here and, although he was officially said to be leading the Cuban delegation, his place at the summit was taken by his brother Raul Castro who is acting president in his absence since July.

Only a select few of the 61 heads of state and government present in Havana were bestowed the honour of having a meeting with Castro. The others here who met included Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Argentinean deputy and well known Latin American writer Miguel Bonasso and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

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