In the Colombian city of Cartagena hosted the first official meeting of U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. It took place after the signing of a peace agreement between the Colombian authorities and the rebels of “the Revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (FARC).
During the talks, Kerry said that the United States wants to improve relations with Venezuela, said us state Department spokesman John Kirby. “The Secretary expressed our commitment to the welfare of the people of Venezuela and our willingness to work with all sectors of Venezuelan society to improve our relations,” – said in a statement Kirby published on the website of the state Department.
In addition, according to Kirby, Kerry expressed concern about the economic and political challenges that have affected millions of Venezuelans, and called on President Maduro “to work constructively with opposition leaders to solve these problems.”
“Secretary Kerry emphasized our support for democratic decisions reached through dialogue and compromise. Finally, the Secretary of state and President Maduro agreed to continue bilateral negotiations in recent months,” concluded Kirby.
Before the meeting with Maduro, Kerry expressed the hope that they will hold “serious conversation”. “We do not seek conflict. We are looking for a solution that can work for the benefit of the Venezuelan people… I welcome the opportunity to meet with President Maduro,” quoted Kerry Reuters.
Reuters also notes that the meeting Kerry Maduro took place amid growing political and social tensions in Venezuela, caused by the protracted economic crisis in the country. Venezuelan opposition is seeking a referendum on the issue of resignation of the President.
Monday, September 26, the opposition called on their supporters to hold 12 Oct universal protest action with the requirement to hold a referendum later this year. If it takes place later, even in case of the removal of the head of state from power is his post for the remaining two years will take the assigned Vice President.
Earlier, the election authorities announced that the second phase of collecting signatures in support of plebiscite will be held in late October. In this scenario, the referendum likely to be held in 2016.
Relations between Venezuela and the United States remained strained for many years. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has repeatedly accused the American government of meddling in the internal Affairs of the country and financing the opposition. In turn, the United States blamed Chavez of human rights violations in the country.
In March this year, President Barack Obama has extended for one year sanctions against seven senior officials of Venezuela in connection with “human rights violations” and “persecution of political opponents.” In response Maduro has withdrawn from the United States chargé d’affaires of this South American country, and also called American counterpart “Frankenstein with a schizophrenic message” and accused him of seeking to overthrow the Venezuelan government and get control of it.
However, already in summer on the background of deteriorating crisis Maduro stated about readiness to restore relations with Washington at the ambassadorial level, which countries have not been exchanged since 2010. Then, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez refused to accept appointed US Ambassador Larry Palmer, accusing him of disrespectful remarks about Venezuela.