Fidel Castro has ended his long silence over Cuba's decision to restore diplomatic ties with the US, writing that he backs the negotiations even though he distrusts politics in Washington.

The comments were the first by the 88-year-old revolutionary leader on the talks with the US since the December 17 declaration that the two countries would move to restore ties broken more than a half century ago.

"I don't trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts," Castro wrote in a letter to a student federation read at the University of Havana.

It also appeared in Communist Party newspaper Granma.

"We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries," he wrote.

Two weeks ago, Fidel Castro sent a letter to soccer legend Diego Maradona to dismiss rumours of his death. At the time, it was the first reported word from Castro in nearly three months.

The letter was read on Venezuela state television network Telesur.

A serious illness forced Castro to step down from duties as president in 2006, handing over leadership to his younger brother Raul.

The speculation about Fidel Castro's health had been prompted in part by his failure to comment after the US and Cuba declared on December 17 that they would move to restore full diplomatic relations broken a half century ago.

The latest statement from Fidel was dated January 26.

Source: AP