Fidel Castro praises brother's handshake with President Obama

Dec. 20, 2013 at 1:04 AM

HAVANA, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Former Cuban President Fidel Castro Thursday praised his brother and successor for his handshake with U.S. President Barack Obama in South Africa.

Castro's nod to President Raul Castro came at the end of a lengthy article in Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party. Castro, writing for the first time in several months, praised the late Nelson Mandela as a fighter against imperialism and talked of Cuba's involvement in fighting in Angola.

The former president did not mention Obama by name.

"I congratulate teammate Raul for his brilliant performance and, especially, for his firmness and dignity when with friendly but firm gesture he greeted the head of government of the United States and said in English: 'Mr. President, I'm Castro.'"

The White House has said the handshake was not prearranged, and Obama was simply responding with courtesy to Castro's overture. The two presidents encountered each other during a memorial service for Mandela at a Johannesburg stadium.

President Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro shook hands in 2000 at a U.N. meeting. Clinton was the first U.S. leader to do so since Richard Nixon as vice president in 1958, before Castro's revolution succeeded and his relationship with the United States soured.

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