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New Photos of Fidel Castro Appear on Cuban Media

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Havana, Cuba (CNN)- Amid recent rumors of ill health or even possible death, Cuban state media has released 21 photos of former leader Fidel Castro.

The photo spread appeared late Monday in the online version of Cuba’s state-run newspaper, Granma.

In the pictures, the 88-year-old Castro and his wife Dalia Soto del Valle are shown with the leader of the student association of the University of Havana, Randy Perdomo Garcia. The two men are shown seated, looking at a newspaper and watching TV.

The photos are accompanied by an article written by Perdomo recounting his time with the former leader during the reported January 23 meeting. According to Granma, the photos were published because “Cuba is anxious to know about him.”

These are the first photos of Castro to appear publicly since August.

Just last week, in a message reported to be from the former Cuban leader, Castro endorsed the fledgling talks to restore diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, but added he still “didn’t trust” U.S. officials.

In the letter published on the Granma website, Castro said that although he didn’t “trust U.S. policies and have not exchanged a word with them, this does not mean however that I would oppose a peaceful solution to conflicts or threats of war.”

In December, Cuba and the United States exchanged prisoners and agreed to discuss normalizing relations that had been trapped in over five decades of Cold War animosity.

At age 32, Castro led a band of guerrillas who overthrew a corrupt dictatorship in 1959.

The U.S. broke relations with Cuba in 1961, amid fears that Castro and his bearded revolutionaries harbored communist sympathies.

Despite scores of CIA assassination attempts against him and a failed U.S.-backed invasion of Cuba, Castro stayed in power until 2006, when an intestinal ailment forced him to step down.