By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press Writer
HAVANA - Fidel Castro (news - web sites) appears to be recovering well after shattering his left kneecap and breaking his right arm in a fall last month, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said after visiting the Cuban leader.
Cuban television showed Chavez talking with a relaxed-looking Castro, who was in a wheelchair and had his right arm in a sling. His left leg was elevated and appeared to be resting on a pillow.
Castro wore a dark red shirt and dark pants for the meeting with Chavez. He generally receives visitors in a suit or olive military fatigues.
“We’ve spent some time soul-sharing,” Chavez said after the meeting, which began Sunday evening and lasted through the night. He praised the 78-year-old Castro’s “extraordinary” strength, health and “clarity.”
Chavez came to Havana from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where he signed an agreement to sell up to 50,000 barrels a day of crude oil to that nation.
The meeting with Castro also included Vice President Carlos Lage, Central Bank President Francisco Soberon and Foreign Investment Minister Marta Lomas, Cuba’s Communist Party youth newspaper reported.
The international press in Havana did not have access to Chavez’s arrival or his meetings with Cuban officials. Chavez returned to Venezuela on Sunday.
Chavez is Castro’s close friend and ally. Cuba, in an attempt to bolster Chavez’s government, has sent thousands of health care workers, teachers and sports trainers to poor neighborhoods in the country.
Chavez came to Havana “interested in the health of Fidel, who said that (the meeting) marked the best night he’d had since his accidental fall,” the newspaper Juventud Rebelde said.
Castro tripped and fell Oct. 20 after delivering a speech in the central city of Santa Clara, east of Havana. He had surgery to reconstruct his kneecap and set the arm.