The US and Venezuelan leaders have confirmed for the first time that their governments are talking behind the scenes. No mention of the opposition was made.
US President Donald Trump and Venezuelan socialist leader Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday confirmed backroom talks between their governments.
"We've had secret meetings in secret places with secret people that nobody knows," Maduro said in a nationally broadcast television address.
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"Just as I have sought dialogue in Venezuela, I have sought a way in which President Donald Trump really listens to Venezuela," he said.
Hours earlier, Trump told reporters at the White House that "we are talking at a very high level" and that "representatives at different levels of Venezuela" were involved.
Neither Trump nor Maduro mentioned opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom more than 50 countries, including the United States,
Maduro and a delegation representing the opposition have been meeting separately to find a way out of a dual political and economic crisis in the oil-rich South American country. Venezuela has been in recession for five years. Food and medicine shortages are widespread.
Tensions between Washington and Caracas have escalated since earlier this year when Guaido, who is head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, used provisions of the constitution to declare himself president.
In January, Maduro broke off relations with the United States.
Washington has implemented a stream of sanctions on the Maduro government to force it to step down, hold new elections and cause internal divisions with the ruling clique.
cw/ng (AFP, AP, Reuters)