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Castro Says He's Too Sick to Attend Birthday Celebrations


Cuban President Fidel Castro says he is not well enough to attend celebrations in Havana to belatedly mark his 80th birthday.

Mr. Castro made the comments late Tuesday in a statement read by a presenter to hundreds of people attending a gala in the Cuban capital.

The Cuban leader turned 80 on August 13. Celebrations to mark the occasion were postponed after he underwent intestinal surgery that forced him to hand over power temporarily to his younger brother, Raul, in late July.

Cuban officials say more than 1,300 people from around the world are expected to attend the five-day celebration. They include Bolivian President Evo Morales, Haitian President Rene Preval and Nicaraguan President-elect Daniel Ortega.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is not expected to attend because he faces a national election on Sunday. The festivities in Cuba culminate on Saturday with a military parade in Havana.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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