Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday welcomed the “beginning of talks” with the opposition in Norway, following 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 at a ceremony in front of 6,500 troops in northern Aragua State.
Confronted with the worst socioeconomic 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 dialogue” with the opposition.
Maduro’s depiction of the talks was at odds with Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido, who on Thursday denied they were underway.
“There is no negotiation whatsoever,” Guaido told reporters.
Instead, Norwegian officials were “trying to mediate” with both sides to bring them to the table, he said.
Friday’s ceremony in Aragua was attended by Venezuelan Minister of Popular Power for Communication and Information 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, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs 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 opposition leader Guaido and the socialist president, with sometimes deadly street clashes.
Maduro on Thursday made no direct reference to the meetings, but said that Rodriguez was “on a very important mission for peace in the country... in Europe.”
Details of the exact process under way in Oslo have been scant.
The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it had made “preliminary contacts with representatives of the main political actors of Venezuela.”
These were “part of an exploratory phase, with the aim of contributing to finding a solution to the situation in the country,” it added.
The opposition said that it was being represented by National Assembly Vice President Stalin Gonzalez and former lawmaker Gerardo Blyde.
US-backed Guaido has been recognized by dozens of countries as interim president after dismissing Maduro’s presidency as “illegitimate” following his re-election last year in polls widely dismissed as rigged.
Maduro has been shunned by much of the international community for presiding over the country’s economic collapse and brutally suppressing dissent.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies