Updated: 02/22/2013 10:38 | By Agence France-Presse

Medvedev in Cuba for trade, energy talks

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met with Cuban President Raul Castro for trade and energy talks as he kicked off a three-day visit to the communist island.

"Raul and Medvedev held a cordial meeting that reviewed the excellent state of bilateral relations and reaffirmed their political will to continue deepening ties in investment, trade, tourism, health, education, science and culture," according to a statement read on local television.

The pair also signed 10 unspecified bilateral agreements.

During his visit, Medvedev also plans to place flowers at the Soviet soldier mausoleum west of Havana and to stop by the Russian stand at Havana's International Boko Fair.

As part of Cuba's bid to tap undersea oil wealth, Russia's Zarubezhneft is drilling the communist island's deepest offshore well yet with a Norwegian-owned Songa Mercur rig.

The oil exploration is crucial for Cuba, which relies heavily on close ally Venezuela and its leftist President Hugo Chavez for cut-rate supplies.

Moscow was Cuba's main ally and source of economic support for three decades until the collapse of the Soviet Union, but now ranks only ninth as a trading partner, with just $224 million in trade in 2011.

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