Maduro freezes talks with oppn after US sanctions

Caracas: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blamed Washington on Wednesday in cancelling scheduled talks with the political opposition, as his embattled regime struggles under the weight of US sanctions.
Maduro’s oil-rich leftist government has been hurt hard since US President Donald Trump on Monday ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and barred transactions with its authorities.
In response, Maduro “has decided to not send the Venezuelan delegation” to the latest round of talks, which were scheduled for Thursday and Friday and were to be held in Barbados and mediated by Norway, according to a statement.
Maduro attributed the cancellation to “the grave and brutal aggression” being “continuously… carried out by the Trump administration against Venezuela, which includes the illegal blocking of our economic, commercial and financial activities,” the statement read.
The dialogue was to be held with representatives of opposition leader Juan Guaido, the speaker of the National Assembly who proclaimed himself acting president in January.
Guaido is calling for new elections under the talks, while Maduro, who retains support from Venezuela’s military, demands a “democratic cohabitation” and refuses to leave office.
Guaido is now recognised as Venezuela’s leader by more than 50 countries.
Opposition negotiator Stalin Gonzalez tweeted from Barbados that his side “would continue to search for an end to the crisis and rescue our democracy through truly free elections.”
Venezuela said it is not permanently cancelling the talks, but rather will “review the mechanism of the process” to make sure it is “in harmony with the needs of our people,” the statement said. Trump’s measures were just the latest in a string of sanctions imposed on the Maduro regime in a bid to force the socialist leader from power.
— Reuters