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Fidel Castro Criticizes US Calls for Change in Cuba

Cuba's Fidel Castro has strongly criticized U.S. calls for change in Cuba, following his resignation earlier this week as president more than 49 years after seizing power.

In a column published Friday, Mr. Castro rejects President Bush's assertion that the resignation could put Cuba on the path to democracy. In the piece in the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma, the Cuban leader says what Mr. Bush really seeks is the "annexation" of Cuba.

Mr. Castro says U.S. presidential candidates are making immediate demands for change in Cuba to avoid losing votes. He dismisses their comments as "embarrassing" and says the real change must come from the United States.

Castro resigned Tuesday as Cuban president, 19 months after illness forced him to hand power to his brother, Raul. Cuba's parliament is expected to confirm Raul as the new leader Sunday.

In the Granma piece, the long-time Cuban president says he intended to take a break from writing regular newspaper columns, but that the U.S. reaction to his resignation forced him to "open fire" again on his ideological foe.

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