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LATIN AMERICA | 17-10-2021 21:21

Venezuelan opposition urges government to resume talks after walkout

Venezuela's opposition calls on President Nicolás Maduro's government to resume talks to resolve their differences, after the ruling party withdrew from the latest round over extradition of Alex Saab.

Venezuela's opposition called on President Nicolás Maduro's government to resume talks to resolve their differences, after the ruling party withdrew from the latest round that was to begin Sunday in Mexico.

"We urge the other side to resume the sessions in Mexico as soon as possible to produce the necessary agreements," Gerardo Blyde, head of the opposition team, said at a press conference in Mexico City.

The meeting was to run until Wednesday.

Maduro's government announced Saturday it would not attend the meeting after Alex Saab, a Colombian national accused of acting as a money launderer for the Venezuelan socialist leader, was extradited from Cape Verde to the United States.

"No person is more important than the Venezuelan people," Blyde said, though he lamented there was a "new delay" in the negotiations, which began in August and are mediated by Norway.

Caracas is pushing for Western sanctions relief, while the opposition led by Juan Guaidó wants guarantees of fair regional elections in November.

Neither Maduro, who is accused by the opposition of fraudulent re-election in 2018, nor Guaidó, who is considered president by about 60 countries, is personally taking part in the talks.

The United States has urged Maduro, a former bus driver who became president on the death of his mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013, to make serious efforts toward holding elections if he wants sanctions relief.

Guaidó said his Unitary Platform's delegation went to Mexico City to "comply with the Venezuelan people," and expressed its willingness to continue the talks.

"We had many expectations regarding this meeting. These expectations continue for the next one," he said. "We want to be able to address in depth all the issues on the agenda, because only in this way will we be able to reach agreements that produce solutions for the country."

Venezuela is in an unprecedented economic and political crisis that has led millions of people to leave the country.

In an early September round of talks in Mexico, the two sides found common ground on the country's pandemic response and vowed to continue looking for ways out of the political crisis.

But a round later that month got off to a rocky start after Maduro's representatives turned up a day late on Saturday for reasons that were unclear.

Previous negotiations in the Dominican Republic in 2018 and Barbados the following year failed to resolve the crisis.

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