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Wednesday October 16th, 2019 5:58PM

Source: Norway mediation effort in Venezuela stalling

By The Associated Press
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A member of Venezuela's opposition said Friday that a mediation effort by Norway is stalling and that it won't participate in talks with representatives of Nicolás Maduro until the embattled socialist leader agrees to presidential elections to resolve the nation's political crisis.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó will announce the decision Friday at a rally in the central city of Valencia, according to the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

Norway has hosted two rounds of exploratory talks in Oslo between representatives of the Venezuelan government and opposition over the past month. While precious little about the secret talks has leaked out, the opposition has insisted the starting point for negotiations be a willingness by Maduro to hold elections within a reasonable time frame.

The setback to what appeared to be the best chance for peacefully resolving Venezuela's power battle comes amid a frenzy of shuttle diplomacy efforts in the region.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez is traveling Friday to Toronto for talks on Venezuela with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland just hours after meeting with Venezuelan socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello, who took an unannounced trip to the island.

Freeland, who has played a key role in pressuring Maduro along with the Trump administration, said they will "discuss the role that Cuba can play in a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Venezuela."

Cabello arrived in Cuba on Thursday for what local media called discussions about the left-wing Sao Paulo forum in Caracas next month. One of Cabello's first meetings was with Rodríguez, who tweeted that the two ministers "discussed themes of international interest." He provided no further details.

Meanwhile, mediators from Norway's government were in Caracas on Friday for closed-door meetings between the Venezuelan government and opposition, according to two people familiar with the visit who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the trip.

Guaidó, who heads the opposition-controlled congress, revived a flagging opposition movement in January by declaring himself interim president, quickly drawing recognition as Venezuela's rightful leader from the U.S. and more than 50 nations.

But Maduro, with the support of the military and allies Cuba and Russia, has defiantly held on to power in the face of U.S. oil sanctions that are adding to misery in a nation already crippled by hyperinflation and widespread fuel, food and power shortages.

___

AP Writers Michael Weissenstein and Andrea Rodriguez contributed to this report from Havana, Cuba.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News
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