HAVANA: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrived inCubato strengthen ties with the communist regime of the island, the state run media said Saturday.

Maduro, the hand-picked heir to the late Hugo Chavez, landed inCubalate Friday on an official visit to further strengthen the "strategic alliance" between the two countries, the daily Gramna reported.

The newspaper splashed a photo of Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez welcoming Maduro at the airport.

Just ahead of the trip, Maduro said that he would visitCubato sign agreements that would open "the new stage of cooperation in health, education and sports, and to ratify the strategic alliance with the socialist government ofCuba." Since first taking office in 1999, Chavez turned oil-richVenezuelaintoCuba's closest political ally and economic benefactor. Maduro, who is considered to be close toCuba's leadership, is continuing this policy.

Venezuelasends some 130,000 barrels of oil toCubaeach day. TheHavanaregime of President Raul Castro pays this back in part through the labor of some 40,000 medical personnel and techicians that form the backbone of popular social programs for poor people that Chavez created.

Maduro narrowly wonVenezuela's April 14 presidential election, officially defeating united opposition candidate Henrique Capriles by just 1.8 percent of the vote.

Capriles and his supporters however claim voter fraud, alleging that some voters cast multiple ballots or even used ballots belonging to people who had died.