Minister says Cuba will stick to path after Castro

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HAVANA, Oct 30 (Reuters) Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, dispelling expectations of change in a post-Castro Cuba, promised ''more revolution and more socialism'' when the ailing Cuban leader is no longer around.

''What I can predict is more revolution and more socialism in Cuba,'' Perez Roque told CNN in an interview today at the United Nations, where Cuba won a victory against the United States with a 184-4 nonbinding vote urging the lifting of US sanctions against it.

Nevertheless, Perez Roque said the 81-year-old Fidel Castro, who has not appeared in public since intestinal surgery forced him to hand over power to his brother 15 months ago, remains engaged.

''Fidel Castro is entirely dedicated to the process of recovery of his health, which advances satisfactorily,'' he said.

The man who has led Cuba since a leftist revolution in 1959 is going through a ''fertile'' period of his life dedicated to reading and writing, said Perez Roque, a protegee and former personal secretary of the Cuban leader.

Castro has appeared healthier though still frail in video footage released this year. His illness is a state secret, and so are his whereabouts.

Asked whether he was recovering at home or in a hospital, Perez Roque refused to say. ''For obvious reasons ... I cannot provide information to those who have organized and executed more than 600 assassinations plots against him,'' he said in reference to plans by the CIA in the 1960s and Cuban exiles.

US President George W Bush has stepped up pressure for political change in the one-party state and denounced the transfer of power from Fidel Castro to brother Raul as ''a succession from one dictator to another.'' Last week, Bush called on other countries to push for a democratic transition.

But US efforts to isolate Cuba have proven futile at the United Nations, where an overwhelming majority of countries urged Washington on Tuesday to lift its four-decades-old embargo against Havana for the 16th consecutive year.

Castro is not expected to resume running Cuba's government, which by all accounts is firmly in the hands of his younger brother.

But Perez Roque said Castro has returned to a daily routine and is frequently consulted by other members of the Communist Party leadership.

''I saw him on Friday. I showed him my speech (to the UN General Assembly) and he made some suggestions,'' he said.

Reuters BJR VP0348

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