Venezuela could supply oil to the United States

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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro expressed interest in improving relations with the United States after holding talks with high-level US officials, prompted in part by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and concerns about rising gasoline prices in the United States. Joined.

In a televised meeting with members of his cabinet on Monday night, Maduro did not elaborate on what was discussed. Neither did a White House spokeswoman.

But the Venezuelan president seemed willing to accept a US request that he resume negotiations with the opposition as a first step towards lifting the US sanctions that have weighed on this OPEC member oil nation for years.

“We have decided at this meeting to strongly reactivate the national dialogue process… To work on an agenda moving forward, topics of interest,” Maduro said. “I thought it was very important to be able, face to face, to talk about topics of maximum interest to Venezuela and the world. And I ratify, as I told the delegation, all our willingness to, from diplomacy, from respect and from the greatest hope of a better world, we can advance in an agenda that allows well-being and peace”.

The talks come just over three years after the United States severed relations with Maduro and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. The rapprochement comes after months of indirect contacts, through US lobbyists, Norwegian diplomats and oil executives from other countries, who have been pressuring US President Joe Biden to reconsider the “maximum pressure” policy in order to of causing the fall of Maduro, which he inherited from the government of Donald Trump and which has not produced results.

The idea of ​​seeking a rapprochement with Maduro, who has been sanctioned by the United States, where he has pending charges of drug trafficking, gained momentum after the invasion of Ukraine and the United States imposing sanctions on the Russians, which will precipitate a realignment of global alliances and rising gasoline prices, which in turn exacerbate inflation that is the highest in four decades in the United States.

Influential Democratic and Republican lawmakers last week began promoting a suspension of imports of Russian oil and natural gas as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine.

Venezuela is Putin’s main ally in Latin America and one of the main oil exporters. Its return to the US oil markets could ease the situation in the event of an embargo on Russian oil. The contacts in Caracas, however, were quickly criticized by leading Democratic and Republican senators.

Bob Menéndez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, argued that Maduro should not be supported to punish Putin. The Venezuelan government is being investigated by the International Criminal Court for possible crimes against humanity committed against protesters in 2017.

“If the reports that the Biden administration is negotiating the purchase of Venezuelan oil are true, I fear that there is a risk of perpetuating a humanitarian crisis that has destabilized Latin America and the Caribbean for a generation,” said the Democratic leader. it’s a statement. “For this reason, I would vigorously oppose any measure that fills the pockets of the regime’s oligarchs with oil money while Maduro continues to deprive Venezuelans of basic human rights, freedoms and even food.”

Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of the political ideologues seeking a change of government, also criticized the contacts. He said in a tweet that they represent a “demoralizing betrayal by those who risked everything opposing Maduro.”

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