Kerry says U.S. and Venezuela agree to start talks to ease tensions

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry disembarks from his airplane upon his arrival in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates June 8, 2016. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool

SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) - Venezuela and the United States will immediately start talks to ease tensions between the two countries and does not support its ouster from a regional diplomatic bloc, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday after meeting his counterpart from the OPEC nation.

Venezuela is embroiled in an economic and political crisis that has led to social unrest in one of the world’s largest oil producers.

The United States will send Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, a veteran on Latin American diplomacy, as its representative to the talks, Kerry told reporters traveling with him after the bilateral meeting.

Kerry said that the United States did not support efforts by the head of the Organization of the American States to suspend Venezuela from the regional diplomatic bloc.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton