By Jeff Franks - HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba's Fidel Castro praised U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday for his "noble intentions" but said in his first opinion column in five weeks that the new American leader had many questions to answer.
Castro's prolonged silence after months of prolific column writing had contributed to speculation that the ailing 82-year-old was on his death bed.
He did not disclose the reason that he had not written a column, or "reflection" as he calls them, since December 15, after averaging nine a month in 2008.
Castro wrote that he had met with Argentine President Christine Fernandez on Wednesday near the end of her three-day visit to Havana and told her the revolution that put him in power on January 1, 1959, had outlasted 10 U.S. presidents.
He spoke of his admiration for Obama, who took office on Tuesday, replacing George W. Bush, and is the United States' first black president.
"I expressed that personally I had not the least doubt of the honesty with which Obama, the 11th president since January 1, 1959, expressed his ideas, but in spite of his noble intentions there remained many questions to answer," he said.
One question, Castro said, was "how can a wasteful and consumerist system par excellence preserve the environment?"
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