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Fidel Castro makes 1st public appearance in 9 months

HAVANA (AP) - Former President Fidel Castro made his first public appearance in nine months, attending the opening of an art studio in the Cuban capital.

Official newspapers and websites on Thursday carried a photo showing a seated, gray-haired Castro from behind, pointing at a work of art while artist Alexis Leyva leans in to talk to him at the Wednesday night event. Cuban state television also broadcast video of the encounter on the afternoon news.

Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia published three other pictures on its website that showed Castro's face. Wearing a black jacket and green scarf on a cool Havana evening, Castro reaches out to touch a sculpture in one of the images.

Castro last appeared in public on April 9, 2013, when he attended the inauguration of Havana school.

In December he met privately with visiting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a key ally of Cuba.

Castro, 87, led Cuba for 48 years before falling gravely ill in July 2006 and handing over power to his brother Raul, who formally became president in January 2008.

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