Cuban ex-leader Fidel Castro in rare public appearance

Fidel Castro had to walk with a stick and the assistance of aides

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Cuba's former President Fidel Castro has appeared in public for the first time in nine months.

Mr Castro, 87, attended the opening of an art studio in the capital, Havana, on Wednesday night.

Pictures released on Thursday showed a frail-looking Mr Castro walking with a stick and looking at works of art.

Fidel Castro led Cuba for nearly half a century before handing over power to his brother, Raul, in 2006 because of ill health.

Fidel has kept a low public profile, with sporadic appearances, ever since.

The last time he appeared in public was on 9 April last year, when he attended the inauguration of a Havana school.

Pictures of the former Cuban leader were last seen in December, after his private meeting with the visiting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a key ally of Cuba.

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