Cuban President Raul Castro signs deals in China

Cuban President Raul Castro, left, toasts with Chinese President Hu Jintao, right, during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 5 July, 2012 Mr Hu called for more cooperation with Cuba in trade and other areas

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Cuban President Raul Castro is meeting Chinese leaders in Beijing, signing agreements aimed at deepening already close ties between the two allies.

Mr Castro is due to meet Vice-President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who are widely expected to take over China's top leadership posts.

On Thursday he met President Hu Jintao and signed several co-operation deals.

China pledged to aid Cuba with a new credit line and with health care and technology.

The promises were part of a series of agreements between the two countries, reports said, although no details were given.

Mr Hu urged more co-operation with Cuba on trade, energy, infrastructure construction, agriculture and biotechnology, state-run Xinhua news agency said.

Mr Castro's four-day visit is his first to China since taking over the leadership from his brother, Fidel, in 2008.

It follows one by Mr Xi to Havana last year.

"We are very pleased that in recent years, the relationship between China and Cuba has continued to deepen and develop," Mr Castro said.

China is Cuba's second largest trading partner, after Venezuela.

Mr Castro will also visit Vietnam after China, according to the official Granma newspaper.

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