Russian president Vladimir Putin began a six-day Latin American tour with a stop in Cuba, a Soviet ally during the Cold War that backs Moscow in its dispute with the West over Ukraine.

The countries signed accords in energy, industry, health and disaster prevention. Russian companies will participate in petroleum projects around Boca de Jaruco on the north coast, and that will extend to offshore oil deposits, government website Cubadebate said.

Moscow is forgiving 90% of Cuba's Soviet-era debt, which is more than £20.5 billion.

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