US Threatens to Halt Sanctions Relief for Venezuela

US Threatens to Halt Sanctions Relief for Venezuela

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Biden administration has issued a warning, indicating that it may soon suspend sanctions relief for Venezuela unless the nation demonstrates more progress in meeting US demands for the release of "political prisoners" and detained American citizens.

At risk is the relaxation of sanctions, announced in October, which eased US restrictions on trading Venezuelan oil, natural gas, gold, and government bonds. In exchange, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government faced a November 30 deadline to release jailed politicians and initiate the lifting of bans on oppositional presidential candidates for the country’s 2024 election.

With the deadline passed, White House National Security spokesman John Kirby informed reporters on Friday that US officials were pleased by an announcement allowing barred opposition candidates to appeal their cases to Venezuela’s highest court. "We are, however, deeply concerned about the lack of progress on the release of wrongfully detained US citizens and Venezuelan political prisoners," he stated.

Kirby added that US officials would engage in "diplomatic efforts on those particular issues" and are prepared to take action in the coming days to pause certain sanctions relief unless further progress is made.

In October, a Venezuelan court sentenced two former American soldiers to 20 years in prison for their roles in a 2020 coup plot to capture Maduro. Former US president Donald Trump, at the time, denied Washington's involvement in the conspiracy and imposed additional sanctions against Caracas just before leaving office in January 2021.

In October, Venezuela issued an arrest warrant for exiled US-backed opposition politician Juan Guaido, who declared Maduro's reelection fraudulent in 2019 and was declared the country's interim leader by the opposition-controlled parliament. Maduro called for a "new era" of US-Venezuelan relations on Wednesday, emphasizing the need for mutual respect and collaboration. He demanded the permanent lifting of all US sanctions, saying Venezuela had adhered to the so-called Barbados agreement, which led to eased sanctions in October.

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