Venezuela government and opposition to resume dialogue effort

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro waves as he arrives for a rally with supporters in Caracas, Venezuela November 7, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s government and opposition will resume efforts to hold dialogue, the third attempt in a year by the administration of President Nicolas Maduro and his adversaries to break up a bitter political stalemate.

Previous dialogue efforts have ended in recriminations between the two sides and no concrete progress amid a dire economic crisis that has led to increased malnutrition and preventable diseases.

Opposition leaders said that even though Maduro has previously used the talks to stall for time instead of implementing serious reform, a new round would still be needed to help ensure free and fair presidential elections, which are currently scheduled for 2018.

“We have developed relations in Latin America so that in the company of friendly countries and governments, we can facilitate the conditions for a presidential election,” Julio Borges, president of the opposition-led National Assembly, told a news conference.

The opposition in September walked away from dialogue with the ruling Socialist Party, insisting the government had not met demands including the release of imprisoned opposition activists and mechanisms to allow foreign humanitarian assistance.

Legislator Luis Florido, spokesman for the opposition in the dialogue process, said the opposition would seek a new elections council and would push for presidential elections.

He added that Paraguay, Mexico and Chile would accompany the process.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said via Twitter, “the dialogue continues on Nov 15 in the Dominican Republic.”

The two sides in September held “exploratory meetings” with the backing of Dominican President Danilo Medina.

Reporting by Eyanir Chinea; Editing by Matthew Lewis