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Maduro agrees to Venezuela opposition talks

President warms to discussions to end weeks of violent protests in which 39 people have died.

Last updated: 08 Apr 2014 03:21
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Maduro has said the protests are a "fascist" plot supported by the US [AP]

Velezuela's president has agreed to meet representatives of the opposition to help put an end to the protests that have gripped the nation for more than two months.

Following a meeting with eight South American foreign ministers, Nicolas Maduro said on Monday that he had agreed to talk with opposition members on Tuesday.

"We had quite a long conversation," Maduro said of the regional talks. "They proposed a meeting tomorrow with the opposition delegation, and I agreed."

Thirty-nine people have died in clashes between security forces and protesters, who blame Maduro's socialist government for soaring crime, high inflation and supply shortages.

However, only a small number of those opposing the government have agreed to participate in talks.

The more moderate Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition, which seeks change without unseating Muduro, said it would join the president for Tuesday's discussions.

Maduro said he hoped the coalition would not backtrack on the talks.

Violent protests continue in Caracas

More radical opposition members, who sought to use street protests as a means to topple the president, have been jailed.

Maduro, elected in 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez, has lashed out at the demonstrations, calling them a "fascist", US-backed plot to overthrow his government.

But Venezuela's attorney general admitted last month that demonstrators have been abused.

Dozens of complaints, including allegations of murder by police officers, are being investigated.

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Source:
AFP
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