Fidel Castro has announced he will "happily" meet with Pope Benedict XVI.

Castro made the much-awaited announcement at the end of a short opinion piece posted on the government's website late Tuesday.

Expectations of a meeting have dominated Benedict's three-day visit to Cuba, which comes to a close Wednesday afternoon following a Mass in Havana's Revolution Plaza.

In the article, Castro says: "I will happily greet His Excellency Pope Benedict XVI as I did John Paul II, a man for whom contact with children and the humble generated feelings of affection. That is why I decided to ask for a few minutes of his very busy time when I heard from the mouth of our foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez that he would be agreeable."