White House pours cold water on Fidel meeting

HAVANA, Cuba - The White House Monday all but ruled out a meeting between Barack Obama and veteran Cuban leader Fidel Castro during the US president's trip to Cuba.

Senior Obama foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes said that neither the administration nor the Cuba authorities had asked for a meeting between Obama and the 89-year-old.

"On this trip, we are not planning to meet with Fidel Castro," he said.

"We have not requested such a meeting The Cubans have not requested such a meeting of us." Castro is rarely seen in public these days and when photographed in state-run media he has appeared in a wheel chair.

Castro met Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who visit the island late last week.

Obama earlier suggested in a television interview with ABC that he may be open to a meeting.

"If his health was good enough that I could meet with him, I'd be happy to meet with him. Just as a symbol of the end of, or the closing of this Cold War chapter in our mutual histories. It's not clear to me what the state of his health is."