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Fidel Castro makes rare public appearance

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro made a surprise appearance at the opening of a Havana cultural centre sponsored by one of his favourite Cuban artists.

Fidel Castro has made a rare public appearance. Credit: RTV

State television broadcast images of the bearded, grey haired Cuban leader arriving at the cultural centre to the applause of local residents.

The reclusive 87-year-old was last seen in public in April 2013 at the inauguration of a school in Havana.

Castro lives in a villa on the outskirts of Havana where he regularly receives guests, but photos are rare and only occasionally do his writings appear in the local media.

It is the first public appearance Castro has made since April 2013. Credit: RTV

Castro governed the Caribbean island for 48 years before falling gravely ill in 2006 and handing power to his brother Raul Castro, who officially became president in 2008.

Fidel Castro calls for calm on the Korean peninsula

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said a war between North and South Korea would not benefit either country and urged for calm as tensions soared in the region.

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 2005. Credit: REUTERS/Ismael Francisco

In an article for Granma, the communist party's newspaper, the 86-year-old wrote: "If a war breaks out there, there would be a terrible slaughter of people with no benefit for either of them."

Castro said the situation in Korea presented the most serious risk of nuclear war since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 - where there was a two-week standoff between Russia and the United States over the placing of nuclear weapons on the Caribbean island.

He added that the North Korean government "has demonstrated its technical and scientific advances" but reminded "them of their duties with those countries that have been their great friends."

Castro said a war on the Korean peninsula would affect "more than 70 per cent of the planet's population" and added that the "duty" to avoid the conflict was in the hands of Washington.

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Cuban parliament names vice president and possible successor

In a surprise move, Cuba's new parliament has named a rising young star as Raul Castro's first vice president.

Miguel Diaz-Canel, 52, a member of the political bureau who rose through the party ranks in the provinces to become the most visible possible successor to Castro.

Diaz-Canel would succeed Castro if the 81-year-old cannot serve his full term.

Raul Castro: This will be my last term

Cuba's President Raul Castro Credit: REUTERS/Andres Stapff

Cuba's President Raul Castro has announced that he will stand down from office in 2018 bringing to an end almost 60 years of rule under the family dynasty.

Raul took over from his brother Fidel Castro in 2008, but has spoken about limiting the number of terms for senior government officials including the presidency.

Castro made the announcement in a nationally broadcast speech shortly after the Cuban National Assembly elected him to a second five-year term in the opening session of the new parliament.

He starts his second term immediately. In 2018, Castro will be 86.

Ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro makes rare public appearance

Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro voted in Cuba's general election on Sunday and chatted with well wishers and Cuban reporters in Havana for more than an hour, in his first extended public appearance since 2010.

Castro had voted from his home in three previous elections since being taken ill in 2006 and giving up power to his brother Raul two years later.

Castro reportedly talked about efforts to reform the Cuban economy, Latin American integration, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other matters.

He was heard in a weak voice praising popular participation in Sunday's election.

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Fidel Castro in 'magnificent health' after rumours

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro published an article to dismiss rumours of his death. Credit: APTN

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro hit out at rumours of his death in an article published on the state run Caubadebate website this morning. The article is accompanied by several pictures of the 86-year-old revolutionary icon outside his home wearing a checked shirt and a cowboy hat.

He said he was releasing the images to show how "dishonest" the rumours of his demise have been. He said: "I don't even remember what a headache feels like".

Castro is seen reading the Communist Party newspaper Granna. Credit: APTN

On Sunday, visiting former Venezuelan vice president Elias Jaua released a photo of a meeting he said he had the previous day with Castro, and a hotel manager also present for part of the meeting claimed Castro's health was "magnificent."

Castro stepped down in 2006 following a severe illness, handing power to his brother Raul.