Cuban leader Raul Castro has held talks with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez in Caracas on his first foreign trip.
He officially took over from his brother Fidel in February.
A key ally of Cuba, Venezuela is a symbolic choice as it was Fidel Castro’s first international destination after he took power nearly half a century ago.
The two men announced over 300 joint projects in health, education, culture and sport, and Raul praised a regional trade agreement under which members get Venezuelan oil at preferential rates.
The Cuban leader expressed support for his ally in the upcoming referendum to abolish term limits in Venezuela, which would allow Chavez to stand again:
“We wish you success in the new battle, we remind you that victory in Latin America and the Caribbean depends largely on the victory of Venezuela,” said Raul Castro.
Before leaving, Raul offered Chavez and the Venezuelan people “a hug” from Fidel Castro,
who is 82 and has been living in seclusion since health problems forced him from power in 2006.