Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez read a copy of the Cuban Communist Party newspaper in Havana on June 28 [REUTERS]

New photographs and video footage of President Hugo Chavez have been released after his surgery in Havana.

"Let these images serve to bring peace to the people of Venezuela regarding the health of President Chavez," Venezuelan Communications Minister Andres Izarra said on Tuesday.

There has been speculation about Chavez being seriously ill.

The new images do not disprove the most extreme rumors -- that Chavez has prostate cancer -- but they give substance to the government's insistence that he is simply recovering from a painful operation to remove an abscess from his pelvis.

Beyond referring to the abscess, the government has given no more medical details of the operation nor a clear timetable for Chavez's homecoming.

"We affirm the right of President Chavez to undergo his recovery and treatment in the established time," Vice President Elias Jaua said on state TV after the pictures were released.

In the images, which state TV said were recorded earlier on Tuesday, Chavez appeared in better condition -- albeit still thinner than usual -- than in the one set of pictures released shortly after the procedure.

Source: Agencies