August 8, 2019 / 9:06 PM / 11 days ago

Norway in contact with Venezuelan parties on talks after Maduro suspends meeting

CARACAS, Aug 8 (Reuters) - The Norwegian government said on Thursday it remains in touch with Venezuela’s government and opposition about continuing talks to resolve the country’s political crisis after President Nicolas Maduro called off this week’s round of Oslo-mediated discussions.

Maduro on Wednesday said his government would not attend talks set for Thursday and Friday, in a protest over a new set of U.S. sanctions meant to force him from power. Maduro accused opposition leader Juan Guaido of celebrating the measures, which froze all Venezuelan government assets in the United States.

The Norwegian government did not set a date for the next round of talks. The talks began in May after a failed military uprising led by Guaido.

“We are in touch with them regarding the next meetings,” Dag Nylander, Norway’s chief facilitator for the talks, said in a statement. “The facilitation continues under the principle that the parties would like it to, and that there are realistic prospects of a negotiated solution.”

Neither Venezuela’s Information Ministry nor a representative for Guaido immediately responded to requests for comment.

In January Guaido, the chief of the opposition-held National Assembly, invoked the constitution to assume a rival presidency, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. He was backed by most Western democracies, including the United States.

Maduro calls Guaido a U.S. puppet. He has refused to step down despite Venezuela’s economic collapse and U.S. sanctions on the state oil company and central bank. (Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Luc Cohen; editing by Nate Raymond and Grant McCool)

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