HAVANA (CNN) -

In a scene out of the Cold War, Cuban President Raul Castro and ailing brother Fidel met with the current leader of the communist island's longtime economic benefactor, the state press reported Saturday.

During a daylong visit on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his counterpart signed a slew of agreements expanding cooperation between the two countries.

Putin also visited with Fidel Castro at his home outside Havana. Pictures released in Cuban state media showed the men standing and a smiling, with Putin placing his hand on Castro's arm.

Castro was sidelined in 2006 by a mystery gastrointestinal illness and no longer holds official duties, but he still regularly greets visiting heads of state.

Cuba was the first stop on Putin's Latin American tour, which will take him to Argentina and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the World Cup final game on Sunday. Russia is set to host the next World Cup in 2018.

On Saturday, Argentina President Cristina Kirchner tweeted a picture of her shaking hands with Putin.

"Argentina is Russia´s main strategic partner in Latin America, the United Nations and the G20 Group," Putin said hours before departing for his trip to Latin America, according to the Telam news agency of Argentina.

In an interview with the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, Putin said the "Latin American nations that struggled for their independence inspire our deepest respect for their autonomy and their right to self-determination."

"Today, cooperation with the Latin American nations is one of the key orientations and prospects of Russian foreign policy," Putin told Prensa Latina. "Multilateralism in world affairs, respect to international law, strengthening of the central role of the U.N. and sustainable development are the principles that bring us together."

Last week, Russian officials agreed to forgive 90% of the more than $30 billion Cuba still owed Russia. The remaining $3.5 billion would be paid back over a space of 10 years and reinvested in Cuba.

"It's a great sign of the generosity of Russia towards Cuba," Raul Castro said in video released of the agreement signing with Putin.

The two countries announced they also would cooperate more closely on energy, security and health matters.

The head of the Russian oil drilling consortium Rosneft accompanied Putin on the trip, and Cuban officials announced that the firm would help them explore for oil off the island's northern coast.

Several international companies have drilled for a massive reserve of oil Cuban officials believe lies about 50 miles off their shores, but so far all have come up dry.

Cuba and Russia once enjoyed one of the firmest Cold War alliances, but that special relationship between ended abruptly with the collapse of the Soviet bloc at the start of the 1990s.

The loss of supplies from oil-rich Russia along with the end of favorable trade and aid that once propped up Cuba's ailing economy plunged Cuba into an severe economic crisis.

In an interview published in the Cuban communist party newspaper Granma on Friday, Putin promised a new era of closer relations with Cuba.

"We are disposed to recover lost possibilities," Putin said.

Following the crisis in Ukraine, Russian officials said they were looking to establish new naval bases in handful of countries, including Cuba.

While Cuban officials have said little about the Russian overtures, they have several times allowed a Russian spy ship to dock and resupply in Havana's port.