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Fidel Castro Makes Rare Public Appearance
Fidel Castro has appeared in public for the first time in nine months at the opening of an art gallery near his home.
The 87-year-old's public outing coincided with the 55th anniversary of his triumphal entry to Havana following the overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Castro appears to have done away with the iconic army fatigues - instead opting for a more sedate dark jacket and trousers.
"He greeted artists and residents who applauded the new arrival with emotion," the official Communist Party newspaper Granma said.
Using a walking stick, he chatted to other guests at the Kcho Estudio Romerillo.
"He seems well, though he's an old man and stooped," said Merlyn Smith, a 30-year-old cashier.
"We got used to a seeing a 'giant' Fidel. Now, even though he's stooping, he's still a giant."
The Cuban leader, who relinquished the presidency to his brother Raul in 2006 due to illness, last appeared in public in April when he opened a Havana school.
But he meets with visiting foreign leaders and writes newspaper columns, most recently hosting Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro in December.
Also in December, Castro wrote an editorial praising the life of late South African President Nelson Mandela, while congratulating his brother Raul for his conduct at Mandela's memorial service where he shook the hand of US President Barack Obama.
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