Former President Fidel Castro and his successor, younger brother Raul, met here with top aides to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who remains in Havana recuperating from cancer surgery, Cuban official media said Monday.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro expressed thanks for the "careful attention" that the Castro brothers and the medical team treating Chavez in Cuba have given the president while he is "in the process of recovering his health," according to an article in Communist Party daily Granma.

Fidel and Raul Castro met Sunday with Maduro and other top Venezuelan officials, including Attorney General Cilia Flores, National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello and Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez.

Cuban and Venezuelan leaders reviewed the "successful results" of the special meeting held in Caracas on Jan. 10 by the foreign ministers of the Caracas-led Petrocaribe and ALBA regional initiatives, Granma said.

At that summit, the 18 associated countries of Petrocaribe and ALBA agreed that their energy and economy ministers would soon decide on the creation of an economic zone.

The Castro brothers and high-ranking Venezuelan officials also discussed "other aspects of the strategic alliance between the two countries."

Chavez, 58, who won another six-year term in the Oct. 7 election, remains hospitalized in Cuba five weeks after undergoing his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months.

Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled that Chavez could delay his swearing-in, set for last Thursday, without creating a constitutional vacuum and that Maduro may remain head of the government during the president's absence.

In a bulletin issued Sunday night, the Venezuelan government said that Chavez is progressing favorably, though he still needs "specific measures" to cure the "respiratory insufficiency" that originated from an infection. EFE