Cuba denies convening foreign media amid reports Fidel Castro sick

Havana (AFP) - Cuba on Friday denied reports it had summoned foreign media to a press conference amid reports that 88-year-old Fidel Castro's health is deteriorating.

Such press conferences are always convened by emails or cell phone text messages and none have been sent, said an official at the International Press Center, the Foreign Ministry section that deals with foreign media.

News outlets in Miami, a stronghold of anti-Castro sentiment in the huge Cuban immigrant community, had reported that a news briefing had been called for Friday.

They hinted it was because the leader of Cuba's revolution and former long time president had suffered a downturn in his health.

AFP did not receive any notice of a press briefing from the state-run media center.

Rumors that Castro's health is deteriorating are being fueled by the fact that he has not been seen in public over the past year, although in recent months he has received visiting dignitaries at his home in Havana.

Castro so far has not commented publicly about last month's bombshell news that communist run Cuba and the United States plan to restore diplomatic relations, ending decades of enmity.

Castro stepped aside from the presidency in 2006 and was replaced by his brother Raul.

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