August 24, 2019
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Venezuela's FM: Talks with opposition will resume, but under new mechanism

Caracas, Aug 15 (efe-epa).- Venezuela's foreign minister said on Thursday that Norway-mediated negotiations between the government and opposition will surely be resumed but will need to be held under a revised mechanism.

Jorge Arreaza, a member of President Nicolas Maduro's delegation to those talks, said in remarks to reporters that government negotiators will meet with a Norwegian mission now in Venezuela to push for a resumption of dialogue.

A week ago, Maduro announced his decision to suspend the talks with the opposition that began in Oslo in May before being moved to the Caribbean island of Barbados.

Maduro said then that decision was due to opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim head of state Juan Guaido's support for an Aug. 5 action by the United States to freeze all Venezuelan government assets in the US.

That order stated that "all property and interests in property of the Government of Venezuela that are in the United States ... are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn or otherwise dealt."

US President Donald Trump's move was aimed at further loosening Maduro's grip on power in Venezuela, a country already suffering from a deep recession, hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods.

"President Nicolas Maduro put (the talks) on pause. We haven't withdrawn from the dialogue process with the opposition or with the Venezuelan opposition politicians that the Kingdom of Norway has facilitated," Arreaza said before participating in a signature drive against Trump's executive order.

Arreaza said the government was reflecting on the dialogue process, the result of which, he said, was an escalation in hostility.

"The result was an attack. The result was to continue resorting to a conspiracy, to a coup. We have to be in a mechanism that ensures peace, coexistence among all Venezuelans," he added.

Guaido, the speaker of the opposition-led but toothless National Assembly (unicameral legislature), said Wednesday that a delegation from Norway was in Venezuela in a bid to get the government and opposition back to the negotiating table.

Little is known about the content of the talks, although negotiators have said a six-point agenda is being discussed.

Maduro's administration is calling for a lifting of foreign-imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan government officials, while the leftist president has stressed that his administration will not be blackmailed in the talks nor allow any agreements to be imposed by the US or its allies.

The opposition, which says Maduro's May 2018 re-election victory was marred by fraud, insists that any agreement must include new presidential elections.

Guaido proclaimed himself interim president in January, a couple of weeks after Maduro was sworn in for a second term in office, and has been recognized as such by the United States and most other Western nations.

Maduro continues to be acknowledged as head of state by dozens of other countries, including Russia and China. EFE-EPA


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