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Fidel Castro hints at retirement

My elemental duty is not to hold on to positions, says leader

HAVANA: Cuban leader Fidel Castro said in a letter read on state television Monday that he does not intend to stay in power forever or stand in the way of a younger generation, but invoked the example of a renowned Brazilian architect who is still working at 100.

``My elemental duty is not to cling to positions, or even less to obstruct the path of younger people, but to share experiences and ideas whose modest worth comes from the exceptional era in which I lived,'' Mr. Castro wrote in the final paragraph of a lengthy letter discussing the Bali summit on climate change.

``I think like (Oscar) Niemeyer that you have to be of consequence up to the end,'' Mr. Castro wrote in Monday's essay, referring to the Brazilian architect who was honored around the world as he turned 100 on Saturday.

Mr. Niemeyer helped design the U.N. headquarters and the main buildings of Brazil's capital, winning in 1988 the Pritzker Architecture Prize - dubbed the Nobel of architecture.

In an essay over the weekend, Mr. Castro paid homage to Niemeyer, a lifelong communist who was exiled for several years during Brazil's 1964-85 military dictatorship.

Despite his physical absence from public life, Mr. Castro currently is a candidate for re-election as a deputy to the National Assembly, or parliament, during Jan. 20 national elections.

``I promise that I will be with you, if you so wish, for as long as I feel that I can be useful _ and if it is not decided by nature before _ not a minute less and not a second more ... Now I understand that it was not my destiny to rest at the end of my life.'' -- AP

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