Published: Jul 12, 2010 1:05 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 12, 2010 10:06 AM EDT

HAVANA (AP) - Fidel Castro is back.

The aging revolutionary leader will appear Monday on a key Cuban

television news program for the first time in at least four years,

according to a front-page headline in the Communist-party

newsletter Granma. It would be the second appearance in recent days

by the normally reclusive former president.

Castro, 83, was set to discuss his concerns about the Middle

East on the Mesa Redonda - or Round Table - a daily talk show about

current events that is usually transmitted live on state media and

seen across the island.

"This afternoon, special Mesa Redonda with Fidel," blares the

headline.

Castro has not appeared on the program since a serious illness

in 2006 forced him to step down - first temporarily, than

permanently - and hand power over to his brother Raul. Photos of

the elder Castro greeting workers at a science center were

published in pro-government blogs and on state media over the

weekend, the first time he has been photographed in public in that

time.

Castro remains head of Cuba's Communist Party and continues to

publish his thoughts on world events in frequent opinion pieces,

called Reflections. Recently, he has voiced alarm about America's

standoff with Iran over nuclear issues, as well as a deadly Israeli

raid on an aid convoy headed to Gaza.

But he has stayed almost entirely out of the public eye since

ceding power, helping Raul Castro carve out a role as the country's

leader after a lifetime spent in his more famous brother's shadow.

The two Castros have ruled Cuba since overthrowing dictator

Fulgencio Batista in 1959. Fidel's health has for years been the

subject of frequent rumors - particularly among exiles in Florida,

and his television appearance will undoubtedly be scrutinized for

signs of his aging.

The photographs of Fidel published this weekend were taken on

Wednesday at a scientific think tank in Havana. He is shown smiling

and waving at workers, appearing relaxed and happy, but somewhat

stooped. Granma republished the photographs on Monday under the

story about his upcoming television appearance.

Cuba has occasionally released pictures showing Castro in

private meetings with dignitaries, most recently during a visit in

February by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. But he

had not been photographed in a public setting since 2006.