Image: Fidel Castro, Rafael Correa
AP/Juventud Rebelde
Cuba's leader Fidel Castro, right, and Ecuador's President Rafael Correa meet in Havana Aug. 21 in this photo published Aug. 23 in Cuba's Communist Youth newspaper.
updated 8/23/2009 10:17:22 PM ET 2009-08-24T02:17:22

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro appeared on state television on Sunday for the first time since June 2008, meeting with a group of students from Venezuela.

The broadcast showed the 83-year-old Castro looking healthier and rested and talking with the students at an undisclosed location on Saturday.

Castro has rarely been shown on Cuban TV since he fell ill three years ago. He ceded power to his brother Raul and has not been seen in public since. Castro formally stepped down as president in February 2008.

In Sunday's broadcast, Fidel Castro told the students the globe faces a grave threat posed by climate change.

"Even the Pentagon has put global warming among the things that threaten the security of the United States," he said.

The students presented Castro with a T-shirt and sang, "We love you, Fidel. We love you." Castro, wearing a blue track suit, tells the students Cuba stands by the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez, a close friend and ally of Castro's.

The last time Castro was shown on Cuban TV was in June 2008 — in meeting with Chavez.

Cuba's state-run press occasionally publishes photographs of Castro with visitors, but news of his health is considered a state secret. Castro also often publishes essays on global affairs. His latest, on the U.S. debate over health care coverage, appeared last week.

Also on Sunday, Cuba's Communist Youth newspaper published a photo of Castro talking with the visiting Ecuadorean president.

The photo in Juventud Rebelde showed Castro wearing a white shirt instead of the sports apparel he has worn in recent photos. The meeting with President Rafael Correa occurred Friday.

More on: Cuba

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