The Latest: Cuban, Canadian FMs meet to discuss Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on the crisis in Venezuela (all times local):
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland have met in Havana to discuss issues including the crisis in Venezuela.
Rodríguez confirmed the Thursday meeting on his Twitter account then wrote that “Cuba ratifies its willingness to contribute to initiatives that promote respectful dialogue with the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”
Cuba’s foreign minister said talks on Venezuela should be based on the sovereign equality of states, international law and the will of Latin America to be a “Zone of Peace.”
Freeland had announced her trip to Havana the day before.
Her trip came as diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving Venezuela’s crisis accelerated with its government and opposition sending envoys to talks in Norway. The Norwegian attempt to mediate comes amid tensions that exploded in street violence when the opposition called in vain for a military uprising.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó is confirming efforts in Norway to mediate between the opposition and the government of President Nicolás Maduro.
Guaidó referred to the Norwegian initiative in remarks on Thursday, but said the opposition won’t enter into any “false negotiation.”
The Venezuelan opposition has said that Maduro used past negotiations to play for time and was not sincere about making concessions. Maduro says he is open to dialogue and that the opposition had been trying to seize power by force.
Guaidó says any diplomatic process aimed at resolving the Venezuelan crisis must lead to the end of Maduro’s government, its replacement by a transitional administration and free and fair elections.
The United Nations says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “very much supportive” of the talks in Norway between Venezuela’s government and opposition on ways of ending the South American country’s crisis.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric was asked Thursday at U.N. headquarters in New York about possible U.N. participation in the process.
He responded that he didn’t “want to predict what can happen in what we know is a complicated situation, but what is clear is that the secretary-general’s good offices, the United Nations’ good offices, remain very much available.”
It comes amid reports that the International Contact Group and the Lima Group, which both support opposition leader Juan Guaidó, may meet.
Dujarric said the U.N. is “very supportive” of such initiatives.
Canada’s foreign minister is meeting Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez in Havana.
Chrystia Freeland’s office says the purpose of the visit is “to discuss the deteriorating situation” in Cuba’s ally Venezuela, as well as tightened U.S. sanctions on Cuba.
The Canadian statement says: “It is of critical importance that our two countries meet to discuss the economic, political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and the work we can undertake together to address it.”
Meanwhile, Cuba’s first vice minister of foreign relations was in Norway Tuesday and Wednesday as part of what his office called a tour of Scandinavian countries.
Venezuelan opposition figures said Tuesday that government and opposition figures are holding talks in Norway on a possible way to end the country’s power struggle.
The Venezuelan government and opposition have sent envoys to Norway to attend talks on ways of ending the South American country’s crisis, though their mutual mistrust and differences on key issues are likely to slow chances of progress.
The development reported by officials Wednesday appears to reflect a recognition that neither side has been able to prevail in the struggle for power. That’s left Venezuela in a state of paralysis after years of hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.
It’s also a policy reversal for the opposition, which has accused President Nicolás Maduro of using previous negotiations to play for time.
Members of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress say senior members of both sides will be involved in the exploratory discussions in Oslo.