Cuba confers highest state honour on Venezuelan president

Havana, March 19 (IANS) Cuba granted the highest state honour to visiting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

At a ceremony held at Havana’s Revolution Palace on Friday, Cuban President Raul Castro honoured Maduro with the Jose Marti Order, Xinhua reported.

The Venezuelan leader, who arrived here in the early hours of Friday, took the order with “the commitment of loyalty to the ideas of the founding fathers, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.”

The Jose Marti Order is granted to Cuban or foreign citizens for their services to the cause of peace or outstanding achievements in education, culture, science, sports or creative work.

Maduro was in Havana to participate in the Cuba-Venezuela High Level Joint Commission meeting to map out a cooperation arrangement for 2016 and a plan to deal with the present epidemics of Zika, dengue and Chikungunya affecting the region.

In his talks with Maduro, Castro reiterated unconditional solidarity with Chavez, the Bolivarian revolution and the civil-military union of the Venezuelan people led by President Maduro.

Both presidents reaffirmed their willingness to continue strengthening cooperation, said an official statement.

Maduro’s visit to Cuba came two days ahead of the arrival of US President Barack Obama.

Venezuela, a major political and economic ally of Cuba, provides some half of the fuel that Cuba needs to meet domestic demand, while Havana supports the social health and education plans promoted by the Venezuelan government.

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