Venezuela’s government and opposition will resume political talks on Saturday, Norway’s foreign ministry has confirmed, as negotiations aimed at finding a way out of the country’s complex crisis were stalled for more than a year.
Norway, which is facilitating the discussions in Mexico, said on Thursday that the parties would sign a “partial agreement on social matters”.
“We announce that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Unitary Platform of Venezuela have decided to resume the dialogue and negotiation process in Mexico on November 26, facilitated by Norway,” the Norwegian embassy in Mexico tweeted.
Previous talks were suspended in October 2021 by the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, upset by the United States’s extradition of a businessman with ties to his administration.
“We are convinced that this social agreement will open the doors to advance the extensive agenda of national dialogue, in the fulfillment of all its objectives for the good of our country,” Jorge Rodriguez, president of the ruling party-dominated National Assembly, said in a written statement shortly after Thursday’s announcement.
The negotiations are expected to focus on a humanitarian aid programme for the cash-strapped nation as well as on conditions for a presidential election planned for 2024.
Representatives of Maduro and the opposition, including the faction backed by the US and led by Juan Guaido, will likely also discuss a US extension for oil giant Chevron to operate in Venezuela amid spirally global energy costs.
Chevron is expected to get approval from Washington as early as Saturday to expand its operations in the South American country.
The approval would allow it to produce and export crude oil, a source with knowledge of the matter told the Reuters news agency.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador commented on the news of the new talks during his regular news conference on Thursday, saying he is grateful both sides trust Mexico to hold them.
“The idea is that we do not act in a leading role. What we want is that there is understanding so that we can move forward and achieve peace, tranquillity and that there are agreements between the parties,” he said.
US Department of State official Brian Nichols also welcomed the return to dialogue, saying on Twitter that he hoped the parties will work “toward relief for the humanitarian challenges facing Venezuelans” as well as “free & fair elections”.
We welcome the return to talks between the Venezuelan parties later this week & look forward to them working toward relief for the humanitarian challenges facing Venezuelans, & free & fair elections. The U.S. continues to support the Venezuelan people as they seek a better future
— Brian A. Nichols (@WHAAsstSecty) November 24, 2022