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Cuba's Acting President Makes First Public Comments


Cuban Defense Minister Raul Castro says his ailing brother, President Fidel Castro, is recovering well from surgery, and that the island nation has taken precautions to prevent aggression against the country.

Raul's comments in Friday's edition of Cuba's official Granma newspaper are his first public statements since temporarily assuming presidential powers last month.

The younger Castro says Fidel's recovery is due to "his exceptional physical and mental nature."

The defense minister says he mobilized Cuba's forces hours after his brother's illness was announced because Cuba could not "rule out the risk of somebody going crazy" in the Bush administration.

Raul says he is not worried about international speculation over his public absence, explaining he is not used to appearing in public, except "when it is required."

He made his first public appearance this month Sunday, when he welcomed Hugo Chavez on the Venezuelan president's visit to Havana.