Venezuelan president confirms contacts between government representatives and U.S. officials

Clay Curtis
August 23, 2019

Many saw negotiations hosted by Norway on the Caribbean island of Barbados between the Maduro government and its opposition as Venezuela's best chance at resolving the crisis.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, in Washington.

"If President Donald Trump someday wants to talk, we are always ready".

The Associated Press reported over the weekend that the US has made secret contact with socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello as close allies of Maduro's inner circle seek guarantees they won't face prosecution for alleged abuses and crimes if they cede to growing demands to remove him.

"I believe in Dialogue, I believe in Peace!" it said.

Trump subsequently intensified sanctions on Venezuela this month, ordering a freeze on all government assets in the United States and barred transactions with its authorities.

Maduro said he could not reveal details about which officials had been in contact with the Trump administration or what they had discussed, but that the goal of the discussions was to "normalise and resolve this conflict" between the two countries.

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The development comes just weeks after the U.S. Treasury Department slapped tough new sanctions against the Venezuelan government that would target even foreign companies that do business with the Maduro administration.

Mr Trump told reporters at the White House yesterday that the United States was in discussion with Venezuelan officials "at a very high level".

The contacts with Cabello, who has been sanctioned by the USA and accused by the U.S. government of having links to drug trafficking, have ruffled the features of some within the State Department who are concerned over the possibility that the White House may strike a deal with one of Chavismo's key figures, Cutz said.

A U.S. official said in recent days to the AP that the goal is not to promote Cabello as a replacement for Maduro but to increase pressure on Caracas by fueling disputes that, in the opinion of the United States, could be occurring between different sectors of the ruling party.

Nearly seven months after recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president, Trump has been giving signs of impatience over Maduro's continuation in power, and on Tuesday he said that he is helping the South American country as much as he can.

"Fifteen years ago it was one of the wealthiest countries". Now he is one of the poorest, "he said".

The U.N. estimates that at least four million Venezuelans have left their country because of hyperinflation and severe shortages of food and medicine.

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