Cuban President Raul Castro is visiting Venezuela on his first international trip as leader of the communist nation.

Venezuela's socialist president, Hugo Chavez, welcomed Mr. Castro Saturday at the Caracas airport.

This is President Castro's first official foreign trip since February, when the 77-year-old took charge from his ailing older brother, Fidel Castro.

The two leaders will visit the tomb of South American independence icon Simon Bolivar today and later hold talks on a variety of  issues.

Venezuela and Cuba have increased cooperation on energy and oil production.  Venezuela is a critical trade partner for the Caribbean island nation, which imports nearly 100,000 barrels of oil per day from Venezuela.

Today's visit comes ahead of a summit in Brazil next week, where Latin American and Caribbean leaders will gather for talks.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.