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Castro statement appears in midst of health rumors

HAVANA -- The first public statement in almost four months from Fidel Castro appeared in Cuba's state media on Wednesday, as rumors persist about the 86-year-old revolutionary icon's health.

Castro has not been seen in public since March 28, when Pope Benedict XVI paid a landmark visit, and briefly the following week on April 5 with Chilean student leader Camila Vallejo — both appearances more than six months ago.

Health Minister Roberto Morales read out a message from Castro on Wednesday at Havana's Institute of Medical Sciences, praising graduates for “honorable missions in far-off corners of the world in very difficult circumstances.”

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