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Fidel Castro Makes First Public Appearance in Over a Year

A screen capture from Cuba's website Cubadebate shows Fidel Castro in Havana, greeting supporters on March 30, 2015.

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro has made his first public appearance in over a year, according to official media.

Four photographs published online show Castro, 88, seated inside a vehicle, shaking hands through a window with what appear to be Venezuelan supporters. He is wearing a baseball cap and his trademark beard, but only the side of his face is visible.

The Cuban reports said the encounter happened Monday and did not explain why so many days passed before the photos were released.

Castro was said to have been meeting with a Venezuelan delegation visiting Cuba on a solidarity mission. The reports said he impressed the Venezuelans with his firm handshake and lucid mind.

Oil-rich Venezuela has long been Cuba's closest ally.

This was the first time Castro had been spotted in public since Cuba and the United States announced their historic move to restore diplomatic ties.

The last sighting of the former longtime Cuban leader came in January 2014 at the opening of an art studio in Havana.

Castro stepped down as president temporarily in 2006 because of illness, handing power to his brother, Raul, who took over permanently in 2008.