Times Wire Reports

Fidel Castro chatted live via speakerphone with graduating medical students in Nicaragua in the latest of a series of media events showing off the former Cuban leader looking more robust.

The 83-year-old Castro, who hasn't been seen in public since falling ill three years ago, called during the graduation ceremony to congratulate the 44 doctors who had studied in Cuba.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega interrupted a graduation speech to put Castro's call on a speaker for the crowd to hear. "I'm a great admirer of doctors, and it makes me very happy that a group of graduates is getting together," Castro told Ortega in the brief call.

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