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11 Mar, 2024 13:32

Boris Johnson secretly visited sanctioned country – Sunday Times 

The former UK PM met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the newspaper has claimed
Boris Johnson secretly visited sanctioned country – Sunday Times 

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson secretly flew to Venezuela last month to conduct unofficial talks with the leader of the South American nation, Nicolas Maduro, the Sunday Times has reported. 

The meeting came amid supposed concerns from Ukraine’s Western backers that Venezuela could supply weapons to Russia. The former prime minister spent less than 24 hours in South America, having traveled by private jet from a holiday home in the nearby Dominican Republic, unnamed sources told the newspaper. 

The two politicians also reportedly discussed the normalization of relations between London and Caracas, the holding of free and fair presidential elections in Venezuela this year, and the South American country’s dispute with Guyana, a former British colony, over a 62,000 sq-mile oil and mineral-rich area around the Essequibo River.

Johnson’s visit was later confirmed to Sky News by his spokesperson, who said its purpose was to “emphasize the need for Venezuela to embrace a proper democratic process.” The trip was made with “active support” from UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron, as well as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), it was added.    

“He [Johnson] repeatedly made clear there can be no hope of normalization in relations until Venezuela fully embraces democracy and respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors,” the spokesperson stated. “[He also] set out the case for the cause of Ukrainian victory to the government of Venezuela.”

The former prime minister may have used the meeting with Maduro to promote Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s agenda, sources also told the Sunday Times. The report noted that a few days after his trip to Venezuela, Johnson visited Kiev, where he met with the Ukrainian president.

Venezuela has been targeted by heavy sanctions imposed by the UK, the US, and other Western allies to cut the oil-rich Bolivarian Republic from global trade and financial system. Maduro has been a vocal supporter of Moscow, accusing the West of fueling of conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Johnson is known as a strong backer of Ukraine. Despite his resignation in 2022, the politician has visited Kiev several times since Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring country. 

In November, David Arakhamia, Ukraine’s top negotiator during peace talks with Russia in Istanbul in spring 2022, claimed that Johnson had traveled to Kiev and persuaded Vladimir Zelensky’s government to withdraw from the discussions. Johnson himself has denied the allegations.

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