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Venezuela crisis: Maduro officials & Guaido's opposition to hold talks in Norway

Venezuela crisis: Maduro officials & Guaido's opposition to hold talks in Norway
Both Caracas and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido have confirmed they sent their representatives to Oslo for talks scheduled to begin next week, a second such attempt at dialogue within two weeks.

As the Venezuelan government and the opposition remain deadlocked, with Western-backed, self-proclaimed 'interim president' Guaido failing to enlist enough support from the military to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro last month, the parties appear to be turning to diplomacy.

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Both Guaido and Maduro confirmed on Saturday that their respective delegations will meet in Oslo next week. It was reported that high-ranking officials from the Maduro government and close aides to Guaido have already arrived in the Norwegian capital.

The confirmation came several hours after Norway announced it would host the negotiations, a follow-up from an earlier round of secretive talks held last week at an undisclosed location in the Norwegian capital.

At the time, Norway's NRK broadcaster reported it was the second time Maduro and Guaido representatives sat down for talks, which would mean the parties are now gearing up for a third round.

READ MORE: ‘My daughter could die’: US sanctions hit Venezuelan girl’s medical treatment

While there is little information on the outcome of the previous rounds, it has been confirmed that the opposition delegation would be led by the same lawmakers – National Assembly Vice President Stalin Gonzalez, former Caracas area Mayor Gerardo Blyde, and former Transport Minister Fernando Martinez Mottola.

In a statement on Saturday, Guaido said the opposition would insist on the "cessation of usurpation, transition and free elections."

Maduro thanked the Norwegian government for its role in the peace-making effort, adding that the delegation from Caracas has departed to Oslo "with a willingness to work on the agreed comprehensive agenda and to advance the conclusion of good agreements."

The Venezuelan government delegation would consist of Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez and Miranda state Governor Héctor Rodríguez, who took part in an earlier round of talks, and would also include Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza. The secretary of the Venezuelan National Human Rights Council (HRD), Larry Devoe, is expected to show up as well, AFP reported, citing anonymous officials.

Even as the Venezuelan opposition seems to accept the idea that talks with Maduro may be the preferable way out of the crisis, its backers in the US State Department have been quick to dismiss any solution short of ousting Maduro, stating that the only subject worth discussing is "the conditions of his departure."

"We hope the talks in Oslo will focus on that objective, and if they do, we hope progress will be possible," spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

The US was the first country to recognize Guaido, which dozens of its allies took as a nod to do the same. Washington has refused to rule out a military invasion in Venezuela, insisting that "all options" should remain on the table. In the meantime, it has been choking the Venezuelan economy with a barrage of crippling sanctions, estimated to have cost the Latin American country $130 billion since 2015.

On Monday, Maduro proposed holding snap elections to restock the National Assembly, currently led by Guaido, which functions as a parallel legislature to the Constituent Assembly staffed by Maduro allies.

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