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The Mideast

Israeli Leaders Praise Former Cuban President Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro

Sept. 21: Cuba's former President Fidel Castro, left, attends a meeting with members of the Peace Boat organization in Havana, Cuba. (AP)

JERUSALEM -- Israeli leaders are praising former Cuban President Fidel Castro for supporting Israel in a series of interviews

Israeli President Shimon Peres' office says Peres sent Castro a personal letter Saturday thanking him for his remarks. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent reporters text messages drawing attention to a series of interviews published in the Atlantic magazine early this month.

The Israeli praise is highly unusual, as Castro has traditionally supported the Palestinians and has been highly critical of the Jewish state in the past.

In the interview, Castro chided Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust, in which some six million Jews were killed by the Nazi's during World War II.

In another interview Castro said Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state.