Former Cuban President Fidel Castro met with former Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua in Havana and later accompanied him to the Hotel Nacional in his first public appearance in months and amid rumors about his health.

Castro and Jaua met Saturday in the capital, the former Venezuelan vice president told reporters Sunday at the Hotel Nacional.

Jaua showed reporters a photograph of a smiling and healthy looking Castro sitting in a vehicle.

"Commander Fidel was kind enough to meet with us yesterday. We spent five hours talking about agriculture, history, international politics and, well, Fidel is doing really well," Jaua said.

The former Cuban president accompanied Jaua to the iconic Havana hotel after the meeting and was photographed wearing a hat and a checkered shirt.

Hotel Nacional general manager Antonio Martinez, who appears in the photograph with Castro, told reporters that the Cuban leader was "very happy, with a permanent smile and talking about many things."

Castro spent a few minutes chatting with hotel workers, Martinez said.

The 86-year-old Castro, who handed over power to his brother, Raul, in 2006, appeared in public after weeks of rumors on social-networking sites about his poor health.

Castro was last seen in public in March, when he met with Pope Benedict XVI in Havana.

The Cuban leader has not published any of his famous "Reflections," a series of commentaries that he started during the recovery from his 2006 illness, in four months. EFE