Venezuela, U.S. Plan to Hold Talks in Bid to Improve Relations

Venezuela and the U.S. will begin talks to normalize relations as President Nicolas Maduro said he’s ready to exchange ambassadors.

Venezuela Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for 40 minutes in the Dominican Republic Tuesday, Maduro said on state television. The U.S. requested the meeting, he added.

“They proposed that we start a new stage of dialogue with new channels and with high-level visits. I said approved,” Maduro said.

The U.S. supports a dialogue between the government and opposition to resolve the country’s “political, economic, social and humanitarian dimensions of this crisis,” Kerry said earlier. Kerry called on Venezuela to free political prisoners, alleviate shortages and respect the process started by the opposition of seeking to hold a referendum on Maduro’s rule.

“I’ve asked for a while that the conspiracy be stopped. That won’t happen overnight. I like President Obama,” Maduro said.

Kerry and Rodriguez met on the sidelines of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Santo Domingo. Kerry said the U.S. supported the talks fostered by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, former Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, and former Panamanian President Martin Torrijos aimed at helping resolve the standoff between Maduro’s government and the opposition, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner.