Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is on an official visit to Cuba, his first to the island since his election on April 14, to ratify the two countries' strategic alliance.

Since his arrival he has been in Havana attending the 13th Meeting of the Cuba-Venezuela Intergovernmental Commission, presided over by Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez and by Cuba's Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca.

"We're going to take our place in the mixed commission with the Cuban government to sign accords for the new stage of cooperation in health, education and sports, and to ratify the strategic alliance," the Venezuelan president said Friday in Caracas before flying to the island.

According to the program of his visit, Maduro's first official act on Saturday would be the placing of a floral tribute on the monument to Cuban independence hero Jose Marti in the Plaza de la Revolucion.

Later Maduro will attend a reception in his honor and have official conversations with Cuban President Raul Castro.

The closure of the 13th Meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission will wind up the visit by Maduro, who said Friday in Caracas that he would be back in the country Saturday night.

Under the late President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela became the chief political ally of Cuba, and both governments maintain an agreement that includes all types of accords, including one by which the island receives 100,000 barrels of crude per day.

Cuba pays for that oil in part with services provided to Venezuela, including more than 45,000 doctors and health, education and sports technicians, plus advisers on certain social plans.

Following the recent elections in Venezuela, Cuba announced it will maintain and expand the island's educational collaboration with Venezuela, and looks forward to an increase in the training of technicians, qualified workers and professionals. EFE