22 Oct 2012

Picture of Castro shown in public

4:00 pm on 22 October 2012

A picture of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has been shown in public, refuting persistent rumours he is gravely ill.

Castro, 86, was photographed with a Venezuelan politician, former Vice-President Elias Jaua in La Havana on 21 October.

Others in the picture were Cuban National Hotel director Antonio Martinez, Castro´s wife Dalia Soto del Valle and an unidentified woman and child.

According to Mr Jaua, Castro conversed for five hours and was in very good health.

The BBC reports speculation about Castro's health has been constant since his brother Raul took over the presidency in 2006.

However, Mr Jaua said he was "very well, very lucid".

"We talked for five hours about agriculture, history, international politics and, well, Fidel is doing fine," he said.

The BBC reports the last images of Castro to be made public were taken in March, when he briefly met Pope Benedict during the pontiff's visit to the island.