Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez traveled to Havana, where he was met at the airport by his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, state television reported Monday.

Chavez arrived in the Cuban capital early Monday, but state television reports did not provide the exact arrival time.

Castro and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez met Chavez as he came down the steps from his plane.

The 58-year-old Chavez will undergo surgery in Havana to remove malignant cancer cells.

Chavez delivered a surprise address to the country Saturday night on national radio and television, telling Venezuelans that he was once again battling cancer and would undergo his fourth surgical procedure in 18 months in Cuba.

"It's absolutely necessary, it's absolutely essential to undergo new surgery and that is going to happen in the next few days," Chavez said.

The president signed the papers informing the National Assembly that he would be out of the country and appointing Vice President Nicolas Maduro to run the government in his absence and succeed him if he were to die or become incapacitated.

Chavez returned to Venezuela early Friday after nine days of treatment in Cuba.

The president arrived in Cuba on Nov. 27 to undergo a new round of hyperbaric oxygenation and physical therapy, just six months after having finished radiation therapy.

The Venezuelan president has had three surgeries since June 2011, when cancer was detected in his pelvic region.

The exact location of the cancer and its seriousness have never been officially revealed. EFE