“I want to express my deepest gratitude for the shows of respect, greetings and praise that I’ve received in recent days, which give me strength to reciprocate with ideas that I will send to party militants and relevant organizations,” he wrote.

“Modern medical techniques have allowed me to scrutinize the universe,” wrote Castro, who stepped down as Cuba’s president 10 years ago after suffering a severe gastrointestinal illness.

He sat alongside his younger brother, President Raul Castro, and President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, along with Cuba’s highest-ranking military and civilian officials.

In his letter, Castro accompanied his thanks with reminiscences about his childhood and youth in eastern Cuba, describing the geology and plant life of the region where he grew up. He touched on his father’s death shortly before his own victory in overthrowing U.S-backed strongman Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

Castro returns at the end to criticize Obama, who appeared to anger the revolutionary leader with a March trip to Cuba in which he called for Cubans to look toward the future. A week after the trip, Castro wrote a sternly worded letter admonishing Obama to read up on Cuban history, and declaring that “we don’t need the empire to give us anything.”

In Saturday’s letter, he criticizes Obama for not apologizing to the Japanese people during a May trip to Hiroshima, describing Obama’s speech there as “lacking stature.”

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