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Talks taking place in Oslo with representatives of Venezuela’s government and opposition to resolve the country’s political crisis are in an “exploratory phase,” Norway’s foreign ministry said on Friday.
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The ruling socialist party, which has long said it is open to dialogue, has endorsed the talks. But many sectors of the opposition remain skeptical, arguing that Maduro has in the past used dialogue as a stalling tactic to maintain his grip on power as living standards steadily declined in the oil-rich nation.
“Norway announces that it has had preliminary contacts with representatives of the main political actors of Venezuela, as part of an exploratory phase,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it supported “the search for a peaceful solution for the country.”
Venezuela was thrust into a deep power struggle in January when Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
The United States and many European countries have recognized Guaido as the South American country’s rightful leader, but nearly four months after their endorsement Maduro retains control of state functions and the support of the top brass, as well as allies like Russia, Cuba and China.
Norway has a tradition of conflict mediation, including assistance with Colombia’s 2016 peace deal between the government and FARC rebels.
“President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution express their gratitude to Norway and its support for dialogue seeking peace and sovereignty,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Guaido was more tepid, tweeting on Thursday that any “mediation initiative” should begin with the “end of the usurpation,” a reference to Maduro resigning.
He has expressed a growing openness to potential U.S. military intervention to resolve Venezuela’s crisis in recent weeks and said his envoy to Washington would meet with the U.S. military’s Southern Command next Monday.
Guaido said he would meet diplomats from European and Latin American countries who arrived in Caracas this week as part of the International Contact Group on Venezuela, an initiative which seeks to negotiate an end to the crisis.
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Ten and thousands of Hong Kong protesters flood city streets in largest rally in weeks
Source: AFP- A sea of democracy activists flooded the streets of Hong Kong Sunday in a defiant show to the city’s leaders that their movement still pulls wide public support, despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters carrying umbrellas poured across the heart of Hong Kong island defying torrential rain and a police order not to march from a park where they had gathered earlier for a rally.
Weeks of demonstrations have plunged the financial hub into crisis, with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles against riot police stunning a city once renowned for its stability.
Sunday’s action, which organisers the Civil Human Rights Front said drew more than 1.7 million in the largest rally in weeks, was billed as a return to the “peaceful” origins of the leaderless protest movement.
“It’s been a long day and we’re very tired, but to see so many people out in the rain marching for Hong Kong gives strength to everyone,” said Danny Tam, a 28-year-old graphic designer.
The unprecedented political crisis was sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.