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Manmohan Singh calls on ailing Fudel Castro

Written by: Staff

Havana, Sep 17: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called on Cuba's ailing leader Fidel Castro here late last night and discussed with him economic issues affecting the two countries.

Official sources said the two leaders had a one-to- one meeting for 40 minutes.

The Cuban President spoke nostalgically about his meetings in the past with then Indian Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi and recalled his conversations with them.

He also enquired about the economic changes taking place in India.

The Prime Minister explained at length the developments in India since the economic reforms were launched in 1991 and Mr Castro, in turn, told him about the situation in Cuba, which is under a US embargo since 1962.

Mr Castro told Dr Singh that his country might be poor in economic terms but very rich in human resources.

Dr Singh was in Havana for the 14th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit.

The two-day summit opened here on Friday without the charismatic presence of Mr Castro, though the 80- year-old Cuban leader was still elected Chairman of the conference.

First Vice-President Raul Castro is acting as President of the country while his elder brother recuperates from an intestinal surgery in July. The Prime Minister had a meeting with him, too, yesterday.

Cuba took over as Chairman of NAM on Friday from Malaysia for the next three years.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Algerian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan are among those who have met Mr Castro in the past few days. He has not made a public appearance since his illness but in recent days there have been pictures of him on television meeting visiting leaders.


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