HAVANA - A relaxed and lucid Fidel Castro returned to the limelight Monday after years spent largely out of public view, discussing world events in a raspy voice in his most prominent TV interview since falling seriously ill four years ago.
The 83-year-old former president talked about how tension between the United States and both North Korea and Iran could ultimately trigger a global nuclear war in an interview on Mesa Redondo - or Round Table - a daily Cuban talk show on current events.
The revolutionary leader wore a dark blue track suit top over a plaid shirt as he took questions at a desk in a sparsely decorated office at an undisclosed location. It was not immediately clear whether the broadcast was live, but Castro referred to a July 5 article as having been published six days ago, which would mean the show was taped on Sunday. Later, however, the program's host read from an essay published Sunday evening, referring to it as having come out "last night."
Castro warned that an attack on Iran would be catastrophic for America: "The worst is the resistance they will face there, which they didn't face in Iraq."
As the interview progressed, Castro at times showed flashes of his prowess as a powerful speaker. At other points, however, he paused for lengthy periods and shuffled papers in front of him. Later, he listened as the host read back long tracks from essays Castro himself wrote recently.
Castro has shunned the spotlight since having emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. The illness forced him to step down - first temporarily and later permanently - and cede power to his younger brother, Raul. His recovery has been a closely held state secret, and his health has been the subject of persistent rumors among exiles in Florida.
In other news Monday, Cuba freed seven political prisoners and sent them and their families to exile in Spain. And legendary Cuban singer Olga Guillot - the queen of el bolero - died of a heart attack at 87.