The video showed Castro talking, smiling, writing and eating yogurt during the visit from Chavez on his 80th birthday on Sunday.

It was Castro's first appearance on video since the July 31 announcement saying that he had undergone intestinal surgery and that he had ceded power to his younger brother Raul.

The video is further evidence that Castro is recovering from surgery for intestinal bleeding.

Cuban media ran the first set of photographs of Castro recovering from surgery on Sunday. They were accompanied by a message from Castro urging Cubans to remain optimistic but also to be prepared for possible bad news.

Eight photographs taken on Sunday were published on Monday. One of the photos printed in the state-run Granma daily show Castro receiving a birthday present from Chavez. In another he is seen posing beside a portrait of himself that Raul gave to Chavez.

The newspaper said it was "an unforgettable afternoon between friends" and that Castro and Chavez spent three hours sharing "anecdotes, smiles, photos, gifts, a frugal snack and the joy of an intimate friendship".

Granma quoted Chavez as saying: "This is the best of all the visits I made in my life."

Chavez expressed admiration at Castro's recovery.

"What human being is this? What material is he made of? It is...the copal tree," he said in reference to a hardwood tree that grows in Cuba.

Chavez gave Castro a cup and a dagger that once belonged to the South American liberation hero Simon Bolivar.