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Venezuela hope for opposition talks with foreign aid

  • Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks to media after a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart President Mahmoud Abbas at Miraflores Palace in Caracas May 16, 2014. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

CARACAS: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he hopes to talk with the opposition after their leaders meet Sunday with visiting South American foreign ministers.

The Democratic Unity opposition coalition (MUD) is scheduled to meet in the capital Caracas with the foreign ministers of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador, as well as the ambassador from the Vatican.

The goal is to pursue talks with Maduro's leftist administration after three months of often violent street protests that have killed 42 people and wounded more than 800.

The MUD on Tuesday declared all negotiations with the government "frozen" after hundreds of demonstrating students were arrested. Many of them have since been released.

Maduro, speaking at a news conference late Friday, said he hoped that talks with the foreign ministers "will be fluid, calm, with no pressure and with a positive agenda for the country."

Opposition leaders began tentative talks with the government on April 10, but there has been little progress and few results.

"They say that there must be results," Maduro said. "Results in what? The dialogue alone is a positive result."

Maduro added there were some unacceptable issues being raised by the opposition.

One of the main MUD leaders, former mayor Leopoldo Lopez, has been held in a military prison since he was arrested in February in the midst of a massive opposition protest rally.

The Democratic Unity coalition is an anti-government front of 30 parties that includes left and right-wing groups.

The visiting foreign ministers, all belonging to the Union of South American Nations grouping known as UNASUR, issued a statement urging "prudence."

While the intensity of the protests has diminished over the last month, in some areas, especially Caracas, anti-government demonstrations continue.

Late Friday, hooded protesters blocked a street with debris and set on fire a Ministry of Transportation vehicle in Chacao, an opposition stronghold in eastern Caracas.

Firefighters who rushed to the scene quickly doused the flames, and the government workers in the car escaped unharmed.

Violent protests began in February as an outpouring of anger against the government's inability to tamp down the high crime rate, but quickly spread and included protests against the lack of household basics like milk and toilet paper in this oil-rich nation.

 
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Summary

The goal is to pursue talks with Maduro's leftist administration after three months of often violent street protests that have killed 42 people and wounded more than 800 .

Opposition leaders began tentative talks with the government on April 10, but there has been little progress and few results.

Maduro added there were some unacceptable issues being raised by the opposition.

One of the main MUD leaders, former mayor Leopoldo Lopez, has been held in a military prison since he was arrested in February in the midst of a massive opposition protest rally.

While the intensity of the protests has diminished over the last month, in some areas, especially Caracas, anti-government demonstrations continue.


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