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Apr 4, 1:34 PM EDT

Former president Fidel Castro appears in public in Cuba


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HAVANA (AP) -- Former longtime Cuban president Fidel Castro has appeared in public for the first time in more than a year, official media reported.

The Cubadebate website says Castro greeted a group of Venezuelans visiting the capital of Havana.

Cubadebate on Friday published four images that show Castro sitting inside a vehicle, each with a different person stretching an arm through the window to shake his hand. Castro's face is largely obscured by a dark-colored baseball cap. He sports longish gray hair and a beard.

The website said the encounter occurred Monday, but did not explain the delay in publishing the photos.

Castro will turn 89 on Aug. 13. He was last seen in public at the inauguration of an artist's studio in January 2014.

In February and March of this year, official Cuban media published photographs of Castro taken during private meetings with a Cuban student leader, with the Cuban agents who were freed from prison in December, and with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Castro stepped aside temporarily as president due to serious illness in July 2006, and his brother Raul took over permanently in February 2008 after he was elected the country's new leader.

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