Maduro hails Norway-brokered talks with Opposition

Sunday, May 19, 2019

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — President Nicolas Maduro has welcomed the “beginning of talks” with the Venezuelan o pposition in Norway, after months of bloody clashes between the two sides.

“The talks have begun nicely to move toward agreements of peace, agreement and harmony, and I ask for the support of all Venezuelan people to advance on the path of peace,” Maduro said in a declaration at a ceremony in front of 6,500 troops in the northern state of Aragua.

Confronted with the worst socio-economic crisis in the oil-producing country's recent history, the socialist leader added that “Venezuela has to process its conflicts” and seek solutions “by way of peace”.

He declared the “beginning and exploration of conversations and dialogues” with the opposition.

Maduro's depiction of the talks was at odds with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who Thursday denied they were underway.

“There is no negotiation whatsoever,” Guaido made clear in comments to reporters. Instead, Norwegian officials were “trying to mediate” with both sides to bring them to the table.

Friday's ceremony in Aragua was attended by Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez and Miranda state Governor Hector Rodriguez, the government's representatives in the Oslo talks.

Maduro hailed the “good news” hours after Norway reported on preliminary contacts between the parties.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza gave the first official confirmation from Caracas of its involvement in what Norway referred to as exploratory discussions in Oslo.

The mediation bid comes after a months-long power struggle between National Assembly leader Guaido and the socialist president, with sometimes deadly street clashes.


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