April 21, 2019
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Venezuela to reopen border with Brazil as soon as possible

Caracas, Apr 15 (efe-epa).- The Venezuelan government is working to reopen the border crossings with Brazil, which have been closed since February, as quickly as possible, the foreign minister said on Monday.

Jorge Arreaza said that the government of embattled president Nicolas Maduro had agreed to look into reopening the border points with Brazil, which Venezuela blocked after tons of humanitarian aid was provided by the international community, including the United States.

The oil-rich South American nation has been gripped for years by an acute economic and political crisis, which worsened after Maduro won a contentious election securing him another six-year term as president.

"We have agreed with President Maduro to work on the reopening of the border crossings (...) so that it happens as soon as possible," Arreaza said at the end of a meeting between the Venezuelan leader and Brazilian senator Telmario Mota in Caracas.

The foreign minister that they would set up task forces "so that there are very clear rules of the game for the welfare of our peoples".

"We will immediately begin work to reopen the borders, to re-establish relations with Brazil," he added.

Arreaza said the meeting between Maduro and Mota, who "has come with a message of peace," served to review bilateral relations.

At the end of February, the Venezuelan president ordered the closure of border crossings with Brazil, Colombia and the Dutch Caribbean on the eve of an unsuccessful attempt of the opposition, led by self-declared president Juan Guaido, to allow the entry of international aid and supplies.

Arreaza on Monday stressed the need for clear rules for the reopening of those borders to avoid a "repeat of what happened on Feb. 23 when Brazil lent itself to the show put on by the United States and the famous and fake humanitarian aid".

Bilateral relations between the neighbours have become soured, particularly since right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro came to power in October last year.

On Friday, Maduro rejected what he considered threats of war and invasion made by Bolsonaro.

"A few days ago Mr. Bolsonaro (...) said that he was thinking about militarily invading Venezuela. (...) The people of Venezuela reject, in unity and absolutely, the threats of war and the military invasion of Jair Bolsonaro," said the Chavista leader in a political ceremony.

Maduro said that the Brazilian president was being supported by the US in his plans "against Venezuela".

In addition, he described the "threats" as something "very worrying", and urged the people and the military forces of Brazil "to cut off the madness of Jair Bolsonaro and his threat of war against Venezuela".

hp/ht/ks

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