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Venezuela opposition rules out more crisis talks

© AFP/File | Venezuelan opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) leader Jesus Torrealba, seen in December 2016, said of Vatican-backed talks with the government, "The dialogue cannot be seen to be a joke, a way of wasting the country's time"

CARACAS (AFP) - 

Venezuela's opposition Wednesday ruled out a return to talks with the government aimed at easing the economic crisis in the volatile oil-producing country.

Vatican-backed talks broke down in December with the center-right MUD coalition (the Democratic Unity Roundtable) accusing socialist President Nicolas Maduro's government of bad faith.

"The dialogue cannot be seen to be a joke, a way of wasting the country's time," said MUD leader Jesus Torrealba on the radio.

He said a round of talks previously scheduled for January 13 would not take place, though his side was willing to meet with Vatican intermediaries.

The MUD wants a vote on ousting Maduro, blaming him for an economic crisis that has led to shortages of food and medicine, sparking riots and looting.

Maduro refuses to allow any such vote before a general election due in 2018. He says the crisis is the result of what he calls a "capitalist conspiracy."

© 2017 AFP