Cuban president Raul Castro hints at retirement


Cuban President Raul Castro during an official visit to China on July 6, 2012.

Cuban President Raul Castro hinted at retirement today, surprising many by saying he "had the right to retire" at age 81.

The Cuban leader is expected to be named to a new five-year term on Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

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He urged reporters to listen carefully to his speech that day.

"I am going to resign," Castro said at a joint appearance with visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

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"I am going to be 82 years old," he added. "I have the right to retire, don't you think?"

The statement comes days after Castro met with seven members of the US Congress in an effort to improved the strained relations between the two countries, Reuters reported.

Lawmakers said they discussed reforms under way in Cuba and the fate of Alan Gross, a US government contractor who was imprisoned there in 2009.

Castro, who will turn 82 in June, took over for his brother Fidel in 2006, Agence France-Presse reported.