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New Fidel Castro photos aim to dispel health rumors

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
  • The photos are shown on Venezuela's state-run VTV network
  • Castro is shown conversing with an anchor; VTV says the interview will be telecast
  • A period of silence sparked speculation about Castro's health

Havana (CNN) -- New pictures of former Cuban President Fidel Castro emerged in Venezuelan state media on Thursday in an effort to dispel rumors that the health of Castro, 85, had taken a turn for the worse.

The photos show Castro in a white warm-up jacket conversing with Mario Silva, an anchor at Venezuela's state-run VTV network, in what appears to be a private studio next to a stack of newspapers with the date September 6, 2011.

"Over a number of days, the large national and international media corporations have assured in their headlines that Castro was in a coma due to a stroke," the article says.

The network says it will broadcast video of the interview with Castro later in the day as "proof of his perfect state of health."

Emergency intestinal surgery forced Castro to resign in 2006 after almost 50 years in power. Since then, rumors about his health have repeatedly surfaced, especially during long periods of silence.

Castro himself said that he has had to undergo multiple surgeries and that on at least one occasion he was on deathıs door.

In the past couple of weeks, there has been another wave of speculation, fueled by the fact that Castro has not written one of his trademark "reflections" for Cuban state media since July.

Some Cubans also commented on his absence from a large concert that was staged for his 85th birthday on August 13.