- Title: Venezuela opposition says talks off until government fulfills agreements
- Date: 7th December 2016
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (FILE) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF DIALOGUE BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION
- Embargoed: 22nd December 2016 02:29
- Keywords: Venezuela opposition Nicolas Maduro talks Vatican
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Reuters ID: LVA0025BQZ0OZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Venezuela's opposition said on Tuesday (December 06) talks with President Nicolas Maduro's administration were off until the leftist government keeps promises on elections and foreign aid, casting further doubt on Vatican-brokered attempts to alleviate the country's deep political crisis.
The formal talks, which began in October with facilitators from the Vatican, appeared to have led to the release of a handful of detained activists, but hopes for real rapprochement have always been slim.
The two sides are at loggerheads, with the opposition seeking the ouster of socialist Maduro, while authorities have vowed he would not leave office before his term ends in 2019.
"There was no meeting with the government today. And in this meeting, with the mediators, they've made a joint proposal to reactivate and relaunch the dialogue process so that it is useful to the country and so it has results," said opposition member, Jesus Torrealba.
The opposition had been scheduled to meet with government representatives, but did not show up.
The two sides had previously reached tentative agreements, including potentially letting foreign donors provide food and medicine to the country and working toward replacing directors of the national elections authority, whom the opposition has called government puppets.
A Vatican representative helping to bring both sides together, Claudio Maria Celli, told media that both sides should develop a working proposal to facilitate talks.
"We consider that there should be the start of a time that would lead to the reactivation, consolidation and sustainability of national dialogue. As such, we presented to the parties a working proposal. We have also requested that public officials not approve or abstain from decisions that complicate relations between the parties or the dialogue process until January 13, 2017," said Celli.
But the Venezuelan government has taken a tough stance during the talks, with Caracas Mayor and Maduro supporter Jorge Rodriguez telling media the Socialist government will not accept ultimatums for the talks.
"The Bolivarian government of Venezuela does not bend to nor accept any ultimatums, nor does it accept any type of pressure from any power in the world. The only compromise that the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and we have in dialogue is to the people of Venezuela who want peace and who insist on dialogue," said Rodriguez.
The situation in oil-rich Venezuela has worsened in recent months, with a recession leaving millions unable to find or afford food amid shortages and spiralling inflation.
The opposition blames Maduro, who has an approval rating of 20 percent, and has been vying to remove him via a recall referendum. The former bus driver and union leader has said the opposition is seeking a coup against him and has vowed to finish his term.
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