Venezuela's Guaido vows protests as Norway talks produce no deal

Meetings between Venezuela gov't, opposition envoys end without progress towards resolving country's political crisis.

    Supporters of the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido take part in a rally in March [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]
    Supporters of the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido take part in a rally in March [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

    A meeting between Venezuela's government and the opposition has ended without agreement as Norway holds talks aimed at resolving the South American country's long-running conflict, opposition leader Juan Guaido's office said late on Wednesday.

    During the meeting in Oslo, Guaido's office said it had ratified a plan for ending Nicolas Maduro's presidency, installing a transition government, and holding free elections that would "resolve the tragedy that Venezuela is suffering".

    His office gave no details about the lack of an agreement, but Maduro has said previously he would not step aside. Guaido invoked the constitution in January to declare himself interim president, saying that Maduro's 2018 re-election was illegitimate. Maduro calls Guaido a puppet of the United States and accuses the opposition leader and the US of staging a coup.

    "This meeting ended without agreement. We have insisted that the mediation will be useful for Venezuela whenever there are elements that allow us to advance in support of a true solution," Guaido's office said in a statement.

    Speaking to Fox News later on Wednesday, Guaido said: "There was no immediate agreement, so the chance that we have today is to remain in the streets."

    In remarks on national television, Maduro said the government had prepared the ground for the Norway mediation with months of secret talks.

    "The only way forward is dialogue," Maduro said. "We want a peace deal."

    Norway's foreign ministry said on Wednesday that envoys for Venezuela's government and opposition had shown a "willingness" to make some headway.

    "The parties have demonstrated their willingness to move forward in the search for an agreed-upon and constitutional solution for the country, which includes political, economic and electoral matters," the foreign ministry said.

    In its statement, Oslo called on both sides to show discretion in public comments so as not to damage the process. 

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    Norway has a long tradition of conflict mediation but has its work cut out solving the Venezuelan crisis. Dozens of Western and Latin American nations recognise Guaido, while Russia and China back Maduro, who also maintains the support of most of the state institutions, including the military.

    US Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Twitter that he spoke with Guaido by phone on Wednesday, but did not say if they discussed the Oslo talks.

    "Told him America will continue to stand with Venezuela until freedom is restored! The people of Venezuela are suffering under dictatorship and oppression. Nicolas Maduro must go," Pence said.

    Economic collapse has driven more than three million Venezuelans abroad in recent years, while political protests have often turned deadly.

    SOURCE: News agencies