updated 2/17/2009 6:01:13 PM ET 2009-02-17T23:01:13

Guatemala's president has apologized to Cuba for his country's having allowed the CIA to train exiles in the Central American country for the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.

Alvaro Colom says he wants to "officially ask Cuba for forgiveness as president and head of state, and as commander in chief of the Guatemala army."

He made the apology Tuesday during a speech at the University of Havana.

About 1,500 Cuban exiles trained under CIA guidance in Guatemala before invading the island in April 1961 in an unsuccessful bid to overthrow Fidel Castro's communist government. The Bay of Pigs invasion ended after three days with about 100 invaders killed and another 1,000 captured by Cuban forces.

During his official visit to Cuba, Colom was awarding Guatemala's highest honor to Castro. It was unclear if the ailing 82-year-old former president would receive the medal in person or if it would be delivered to him later.

Castro met in recent days with two other visiting Latin American presidents, Cristina Fernandez of Argentina and Chile's Michelle Bachelet. Photographs of him with each of the presidents were later released by their respective governments.

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