Venezuelan president meets with Fidel Castro

Cuban President Raul Castro (C), and his counterparts from Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro (L), and Uruguay, Jose Mujica, attend a ceremony  in Santiago de Cuba on Friday.

Story highlights

  • Ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro greets Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, state media say
  • Castro has made infrequent public appearances since illness forced him to step down in 2006
  • Castro dismisses recent controversy of Cuban weapons found on North Korea freighter

Cuban-state media on Sunday published photos of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro meeting with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana.

Maduro arrived Thursday in Cuba to attend celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the start of the Cuban revolution. Castro wasn't at the ceremony, which was officiated by his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro.

Fidel Castro has made infrequent public appearances following an intestinal illness in 2006 that forced him to step down.

According to the official Cuban government site Cubadebate, Maduro gave Castro a painting by former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who died in March of cancer, and Castro gave Maduro a letter for the heads of state who had attended the anniversary of the revolution.

In the letter titled "I Lived to Fight," Castro mentions the recent scandal involving Cuban weapons discovered hidden on a North Korean freighter trying to cross the Panama Canal.

"In recent days there were attempts to defame our revolution," Castro wrote, according to the Juventud Rebelde newspaper, which published the text of the letter. "Trying to make our head of state and government appear as if they were tricking the United Nations and other heads of state and were guilty of being two-faced."

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After Panamanian authorities seized the North Korean ship, Cuba admitted to sending MiG fighter jets, missiles and anti-aircraft systems aboard the ship, which also carried 10,000 tons of Cuban sugar.

The arms, Cuba's Foreign Ministry said, were "obsolete" weapons to be repaired in North Korea and returned to the Caribbean island for defensive use.

Panama has asked for assistance from the United Nations, United States and Britain to determine whether the shipment violated a U.N. ban on sending weapons to North Korea.