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Venezuelan president visits new Cuban leader

CUBA (OBSERVATORY) –¬†Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday became the first foreign leader to meet new Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel since becoming president of the communist island last week, highlighting the importance of an alliance between the two countries.

Diaz Canel, 58, was sworn in on Thursday to replace his mentor, Raul Castro, 86, in a transition aimed at keeping the one-party system unchanged.

Maduro arrived in Havana to congratulate him and draw a map of cooperation between the two countries associated with a strategic alliance since 2000 with the arrival of the late Socialist leader Hugo Chavez to power in Venezuela.

“We come to renew hope, renew dreams … and above all to imagine for the next 10 years,” Maduro told Cuban media before meeting with Diaz Canel at the Revolution Palace.

Venezuela, which has the world’s largest oil reserves, is sharing oil with Cuba for medical and technical services, although supplies have fallen over the past few years, hurting the struggling Cuban economy.