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Maduro ‘ready’ for talks with Venezuelan opposition

Venezuelan Presidency, AFP | Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (pictured centre) and Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino (left) attend a ceremony at the Libertador Air Base in Maracay, Venezuela, on January 29, 2019.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday he was ready to sit down for talks with the country’s opposition and open to the possibility of third countries mediating, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

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RIA released his statement as opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido spoke to FRANCE 24, stating that the Maduro administration “is a dictatorship”.

'We are dealing with a dictatorship,' Guaido tells FRANCE 24

The struggle for control of Venezuela is only intensifying, with the government preparing an investigation that could lead to the arrest of opposition leader and self-declared interim president Guaido, 35, who has called for new street protests.

Venezuela was plunged into political turmoil last week after the United States recognised Guaido as acting president, while Russia has continued to back Maduro. The US has slapped sanctons on ion Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA in an attempt to force Maduro's hand.

“I am ready to sit at the negotiation table with the opposition for us to talk for the benefit of Venezuela, for the sake of peace and its future,” RIA quoted Maduro, 56, as saying.

Guaido lays down red lines

Asked about the possibility of third countries mediating in the standoff, Maduro was quoted as saying: “There are several governments, organisations globally, which are demonstrating their sincere concern about what is happening in Venezuela, they have called for a dialogue.”

However, any talks could prove difficult, as Guaido told FRANCE 24 that Maduro “is malicious and lacks all scruples”.

Guaido also laid down his red lines, stating “I, as acting president of the Republic of Venezuela, will use all means at my disposal to put an end to this and to ensure free and fair elections”

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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