North Korea and Cuba, two of the world's last remaining communist countries, have signed an agreement aimed at boosting economic and scientific ties, reports claimed on Tuesday.

According to the North Korean Central News Agency, the two countries agreed the deal after maintaining close relations since establishing diplomatic ties in 1960 when they started to set up a number of bilateral agreements covering health, transport, military and free trade issues.

In 1999, the last year for which figures are available, Cuba exported $4.1 million worth of sugar and sugar products to North Korea, while the Asian nation sent $2.4m worth of machinery and textiles to Cuba.