Castro to appear on TV Monday, government says

Havana, Cuba (CNN) — Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro will make his first major public appearance in years Monday when he discusses “dangerous developments” in the Middle East on a government TV program, the state-run newspaper Granma reported.

The former Cuban leader warned in a column published Monday of a possible nuclear war involving the United States and Iran, sparked by conflict over that country’s nuclear activities.

Monday’s appearance would be the second Castro sighting in the past few days. Three photographs of Castro surfaced Saturday on a pro-government blog, which claimed the photos were taken Wednesday.

The set of three photos apparently show the 83-year-old ailing Castro meeting with people during “a surprise visit” at the National Center of Scientific Investigations in Havana, according to a blog published by columnist Rosa C. Baez.

An additional five photos — appearing to be from the same event — were published Saturday by the state-run media site Cubadebate.

Castro has been largely out of sight since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. He ceded power to younger brother Raul Castro in February 2008.

The elder Castro’s appearance follows last week’s announcement of the largest release of Cuban political prisoners in more than a decade.

The first of those prisoners are expected arrive in Madrid on Tuesday, a Spanish Foreign Ministry spokesman told CNN on Monday.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met with Cuban President Raul Castro and Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega last week, after which the prisoner release was announced.

The 52 political prisoners Cuba plans to free are the remainder of 75 dissidents jailed during a government crackdown on political opposition in March 2003.

They represent roughly one-third of all known political prisoners left on the island, according to Cuba’s unofficial Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

It is unclear whether Fidel Castro will address the political prisoners release during Monday evening’s news broadcast.

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