Fidel Castro was a towering figure in international politics and a true friend of Cyprus, President Nicos Anastasiades said here today, as he signed the book of condolences for Castro’s death at the Cuban embassy in Nicosia on Wednesday. Castro passed away last Friday at the age of 90.

President Anastasiades wrote: “It is with deep sorrow that I have received the news of the passing away of the historic leader of the Republic of Cuba, Fidel Castro Ruz. He was a towering figure in international politics and a true friend of the Republic of Cyprus since its establishment in 1960. Cyprus will always be grateful to Fidel Castro Ruz and the Government of Cuba for their principled position and support with regard to the Cyprus problem, through the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and on my own behalf, I would like to convey my sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathy to his family as well as to the friendly people and Government of Cuba”.

Speaking to journalists after he signed the book, President Anastasiades said “there may be many and different views on Fidel Castro, however he does not cease to be a personality that is identified with the revolution against every dictatorial regime”.

He was a “great friend of Cyprus and I cannot but express admiration and sadness at the same time. I hope the people of Cuba will continue, on the basis of democratic principles, with progress”, adding tht he believes that Castro will still play a role in the international arena and Latin America, even after his passing.

In statements, Cuban Ambassador Aramis Fuente Hernández said “there is great admiration for Cyprus in Cuba and the people of Cuba feel very close to the people of Cyprus”.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said that Castro always admired Cyprus and urged everyone to support the Cyprus cause, adding that he had a great relationship with the late Archbishop Makarios III especially during efforts to found the Non-Aligned Movement when the two countries cooperated fully.

A procession carrying Fidel Castro`s ashes will set out from Havana today on a long trek to a final resting place in Santiago de Cuba, where the first shots in the Cuban Revolution were fired and where Castro claimed victory in 1959. It will take the cortege carrying his ashes three days to make the 900-km journey eastward across the island to Santiago de Cuba, going back along the route taken by his revolutionaries in their victory march to Havana in 1959.

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