Latin American countries seek Venezuela crisis mediation; Trump invites presidents to discuss situation in the South American nation

Various Latin American nations will join an attempt to mediate Venezuela’s political crisis in new talks later this month, the president of the Dominican Republic said on Thursday.

Danilo Medina hosted high-level delegations from Venezuela’s feuding government and opposition for two days in the latest foreign-led effort to ease a standoff alarming the world. 

“We advanced definition of an agenda on Venezuela’s big problems. A commission of friendly countries was agreed,” the Dominican leader told reporters, saying Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua would join the process with others to be announced. 

The next talks would be held on Sept. 27, again in the Dominican capital Santo Domingo, he added. 

Mexico and Chile have been bitterly critical of President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government over rights and democracy issues, while fellow leftist-led Bolivia and Nicaragua are staunch allies. 

In a statement after Thursday’s meetings, the opposition Democratic Unity coalition said it had accepted an invitation by Medina and the United Nations to an “exploratory meeting” in the hope of advancing Maduro’s exit by constitutional means. 

 “Only through democratic and non-violent change will it be possible to overcome the current social and economic tragedy afflicting all Venezuelans,” it said. 

The coalition said six countries would be acting as guarantors, and any final accord must include a date for a presidential vote, reform of the national electoral board, release of political prisoners, and emergency humanitarian aid.

In other news, U.S. President Donald Trump has invited three Latin American leaders to dine with him next week in New York as he seeks to address the Venezuela crisis and build bridges with the region. 

The U.S. president will receive the center-right presidents of Peru, Colombia and Brazil at Trump Tower on Monday evening, diplomats said. 

White House officials confirmed Trump will dine with several Latin Americans leaders on Monday night with Venezuela expected to be the main topic of conversation. 

“Trump and his team are very worried about Venezuela and they want to consult with Venezuela’s neighbors Colombia and Brazil, and Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who has taken a leading role on the Venezuelan issue in the region,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based policy group.