Iranian Leader Meets Fidel Castro

By Salon Staff

Published January 12, 2012 4:54PM (EST)

HAVANA (AP) — Two of Washington's top irritants, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Fidel Castro, held a two-hour meeting to discuss world events, with the Iranian leader on Thursday describing the retired Cuban revolutionary as healthy and engaged, and declaring their two countries to be allies "fighting on the same front."

"It made me enormously happy to see the comandante healthy and fit," Ahmadinejad said through a translator at an impromptu airport appearance alongside Fidel's brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, before flying off to Ecuador.

Raul said his 85-year-old brother and Ahmadinejad spoke for two hours on Wednesday, "a demonstration that his brain is working very well." Fidel Castro stepped down in 2006 due to an illness that nearly killed him, but continues to write essays on world events.

One of the main themes has been warning that a conflict pitting the U.S. and Israel against Iran could lead the world toward nuclear Armageddon. Iranian officials last year said they welcomed Castro's support, but did not share his apocalyptic concerns, arguing the West would not dare attack.

Raul Castro and the Iranian president also held a late-night meeting Wednesday, discussing bilateral relations and world events.

"We have common positions on many things," Ahmadinejad said. "We have been, are and will be together one with the other."

Ahmadinejad took no questions about tensions between his country and Washington over Iran's nuclear program, and did not comment on the assassination Wednesday of a nuclear scientist working at Iran's main uranium enrichment facility.

Iran's government blamed the killing on Israel, the U.S. and Britain. The U.S. denied involvement.

Ahmadinejad began his Latin America tour shortly after Washington imposed tougher sanctions on Tehran over the nuclear program. He spent less than 24 hours in Cuba, following visits to Venezuela and Nicaragua.


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