Maduro ‘optimistic’ after opposition talks resume in Barbados

CARACAS, 9 July (AFP)। Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said Monday he was “optimistic” after dialogue between his government and the opposition resumed in Barbados.

The South American nation was plunged into political turmoil in January when National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority.

The opposition leader is recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries, but has been unable to dislodge Venezuela’s socialist leader, who is backed by Russia, China and Cuba.

Delegations from both sides arrived in Barbados Monday morning to revive discussions, after a previous round in Norway petered out. “I am very optimistic… Today they had a five-hour session, and I think that step by step, with strategic patience, we can find a path to peace,” Maduro said in a broadcast on the state television channel VTV.

Without giving details, he said that a six-point agenda was being discussed with “the whole country in mind.” “If you work with goodwill and there is no American interventionism, I am sure that we will reach an agreement,” said Maduro, who blames the United States for fanning the crisis.

The Barbados talks will be the third round since the Oslo talks in May, although Guaido had originally said last Tuesday there were no plans to re-open talks with Maduro’s “murderous dictatorship” following the death of an officer in custody over an alleged coup plot.

The suspicious death of retired naval officer Rafael Acosta Arevalo had sparked international condemnation. Guaido said Sunday he wants the talks to lead them towards Maduro’s departure from the presidency he has held since 2013 to a transitional government, and then “free elections with international observers”.

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