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Venezuela crisis: We’re ready for talks with opposition – Maduro

Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, has expressed readiness to hold negotiations with the United States-backed opposition in the presence of international mediators. Last week, the Latin…

Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, has expressed readiness to hold negotiations with the United States-backed opposition in the presence of international mediators.

Last week, the Latin American country was plunged into uncertainty when the US-backed opposition leader Guaido proclaimed himself “acting president”.

The United States, a dozen Latin American countries, and Canada have recognised Guaido as interim president, while China and Russia have urged non-interference.

More than 40 people have died so far in and around the protests that began a week ago, the U.N. human rights office said.

Maduro, who accuses Guaido of staging a U.S.-directed coup against him, had previously rejected calls for talks.

But in an interview with Russia’s state-owned RIA news agency on Wednesday, Maduro said he changed his stance “for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future”.

He said the talks could be held with the mediation of other countries and he mentioned Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, the Vatican and Russia as potential third parties.

Maduro’s stance was re-echoed by the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, David Nieves Velasquez Caraballo.

“We have the capacity to solve the internal problem peacefully and through dialogue,” the envoy told newsmen on Wednesday at a press conference in Abuja.

Caraballo said Venezuela had observed the outcome of uprisings in Libya, Syria and other crisis-ridden countries and was learning cautiously from their experience to solve its own problem.

“All the experience is important for us to learn to solve our problem. Venezuela will not be another Libya. We will solve our problem peacefully without any intervention,” he said.

He accused the U.S government of promoting and supporting a coup in the Latin American country, saying the purpose was to increase American influence in the region and advance its economic interest in Venezuela’s oil and gold reserve.

“This is not a problem of democracy, it is the interest of United States in our oil and gold,” the envoy said.

He said U.S had promoted “coup in Brazil, Honduras, Paraguay to change the political situation of these countries. Now they want to promote similar interest in Venezuela, to change the government.”

He said the government of Maduro was not worry about the calls by European nations to hold early elections.

EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, also issued a statement saying the bloc as a whole could recognise Guaido if steps towards new elections were not taken “over the next days”.

He also dismissed claims that the country is experiencing humanitarian crisis with claims that about three million Venezuelans are taking refuge outside the country.

“We don’t have this huge number of Venezuelan refugees outside the country. We don’t have humanitarian crisis. Venezuela hosts about nine millions of foreign nationals,” he added.

Meanwhile, the envoy hailed the cordial diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Venezuela, and pledged that his country would continue working to strengthen the ties in many areas.

“We respect the sovereignty of Nigeria and Nigeria also respects our sovereignty. Nigeria did not interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela.”

He said 20 Nigerians are currently studying medicine in Venezuela under government-sponsored scholarship.

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