Fidel Castro ended his long silence over his country's decision to restore diplomatic ties with the United States, writing that he backs the negotiations even though he distrusts politics in Washington. The comments were the first by the 88-year-old revolutionary leader on the talks with the US since the historic Dec. 17 declaration that the countries would move to restore ties broken more than a half century ago. "I don't trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts," he wrote in a letter to a student federation read at the University of Havana.
"We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries," he wrote. Two weeks ago, Castro sent a letter to soccer legend Diego Maradona to quash rumors of his death. At the time, it was the first reported word from Castro in nearly three months. The speculation about Castro's health had been prompted in part by his failure to comment on the historic US-Cuban declaration in December. Cuba's president, brother Raul Castro, "has taken the pertinent steps in accordance with his prerogatives and the powers given to him by the National Assembly the Communist Party of Cuba," Castro wrote. The United States and Cuba held high-level talks last week in Havana. The latest statement from Fidel was dated yesterday.