Cuban President Raul Castro welcomed his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, back to Havana, where he will undergo another round of cancer treatment, state media reported Sunday.
Chavez and Castro had “a lively exchange” at Jose Marti International Airport, the Juventud Rebelde newspaper said in its cover story.
Chavez said Saturday he would travel to Havana to undergo another round of radiation therapy, a treatment he has been given since he was operated in late February for a new cancerous tumor.
“I’m leaving again (Saturday night) for Havana to continue the battle for my life and health - I’ll keep you informed,” the Venezuelan president told state television channel by telephone.
Chavez is undergoing his third round of radiation as part of a treatment program that began two weeks ago.
The Venezuelan leader underwent surgery on Feb. 26 for the recurrence of the tumor that was removed in June 2011.
Chavez said the tumor was in the pelvic region, but did not reveal the precise location.
He underwent several rounds of chemotherapy after the initial surgery before announcing in October that he was cancer-free.
Chavez gave an emotional speech Thursday after a Mass offered for his health in his hometown of Barinas, asking Jesus Christ for a “longer life” and pleading “don’t take me yet.”
“Give me your crown of thorns, Christ, give it to me, for I am bleeding, give me your cross, 100 crosses, but give me life, because I still have things to do for this people and this country, don’t take me yet, give me your cross, give me your thorns, give me your spear for I am willing to bear them all, but alive, Christ my Lord,” Chavez said at the church.
The Venezuelan president arrived Wednesday at midnight from Havana after his second round of radiation therapy.
Chavez has said that he has no metastasis and that he is certain of a full recovery.
He has vowed not to abandon his bid to win another term in Venezuela’s Oct. 7 presidential election.
In power since 1999, Chavez now faces a race against the governor of the central state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, the consensus candidate of Venezuela’s long-divided opposition.