Venezuela, Opposition Agree to Hold Talks
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Venezuela's government and opposition leaders will meet Sunday in a bid to open a dialogue about the country's deepening political crisis, both sides announced.
An agreement to hold talks was reached Saturday at a regional summit in Cartagena, Colombia. A representative from the Vatican will also take part, officials said, AFP reported.
"A process of dialogue is being established with opposition groups," Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said in a speech during the Ibero-American Summit in Cartagena Saturday.
Opposition leader Jesus Torrealba of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition group said late Saturday that although the dissident coalition agreed to take part in the talks, it did so with feelings of "skepticism and distrust.
The talks were scheduled amid heightened political turmoil in Venezuela, where opposition leaders have vowed to try to hold a legislative trial to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power.
Rodriguez said the meeting aims to end "anti-constitutional, anti-democratic" actions by Venezuela's dissidents.
The MUD in a statement also reiterated its demands that the government respect the constitutional right to a referendum on removing Maduro from office and that it free imprisoned activists.
Dissident leaders Friday held a partially-observed strike, and recent days have seen fierce clashes involving riot police and pro- and anti-government protesters around Venezuela.
Venezuela is suffering a deep economic crisis despite boasting the world's largest oil reserves, in large part because of falling crude prices.