Venezuela opposition, government leaders travel to Norway for possible talks

CARACAS (Reuters) - Representatives of Venezuela’s government and the opposition have traveled to Norway to discuss potential options following a failed uprising against President Nicolas Maduro, according to four opposition sources familiar with the situation.

The trips suggests the two sides may be seeking a fresh approach after the repeated failure of dialogue between the opposition and the ruling Socialist Party amid a steadily escalating political crisis.

Venezuelan top government officials held talks this year to create a transition government that would not include Maduro, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton and others have said. Those efforts fell apart after opposition calls for Venezuela’s military to rise up against Maduro on April 30 failed, according to the opposition sources.

The military’s top brass has since then sworn allegiance to Maduro, who describes the April 30 events as a coup plot.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido in January invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency, calling Maduro’s 2018 re-election a fraud. More than 50 nations have recognized Guaido as the country’s legitimate president, though he does not control the military or the basic functions of governance.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez and Miranda state Governor Hector Rodriguez of the Socialist Party both traveled to Oslo, according to the sources.

Opposition legislator Stalin Gonzalez, along with political advisers Gerardo Blyde and Fernando Martinez have also gone to Norway, where authorities have been involved in conflict mediation, including assistance with Colombia’s 2016 peace deal between the government and FARC rebels.

Norway’s foreign minister said as early as March that it was prepared to act as a mediator or facilitator of talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

No meetings have yet been held, and the parties will meet separately with Norwegian diplomats, one of the sources said.

Maduro, in a speech broadcast on state television on Wednesday evening, said Jorge Rodriguez was “completing a very important mission abroad,” without giving more details.

Venezuela’s information ministry did not reply to a request for comment. The Norwegian foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Reuters was unable to obtain comment from the participants. It was not immediately evident whether the parties had the full backing of the opposition or of Maduro’s government.

First Justice, one of the main opposition parties, said on Twitter that none of its members are involved.

Reporting by Mayela Armas and Corina Pons, additional reporting by Glwadys Fouche in Oslo and Vivian Sequera in Bogota; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Richard Chang