August 21, 2019 / 1:07 AM / a month ago

Venezuela's Maduro says there has been contact with U.S. officials 'for months'

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks at a meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, July 28, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero/File Photo

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday he had authorized contact with the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump “for months,” in an effort to repair relations with Washington.

In January, Maduro broke diplomatic relations with the United States. Washington imposed sanctions on high-level officials and Venezuelan state entities to increase pressure on Maduro and remove him as leader of the OPEC nation.

Officials from the two countries had not previously confirmed contact until earlier Tuesday, when Trump told journalists at the White House his administration had been in talks “at a very high level” with various representatives from Venezuela but declined to give details.

Maduro said he could not reveal details about which officials had been in contact with the Trump administration or what they had discussed, but that the goal of the discussions was to “normalize and resolve this conflict” between the two countries.

“I can confirm that for months we have had contact,” Maduro said during an appearance on state television. “Just as I have sought dialogue in Venezuela, I have sought a way for President Donald Trump to really listen to Venezuela,” he added.

Maduro and a delegation representing opposition leader Juan Guaido have been meeting in Barbados as part of talks to resolve a political stalemate in nation that is suffering from a hyperinflationary economic collapse.

This week opposition politicians are traveling to Washington to speak to U.S. officials, four sources told Reuters.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera, Writing by Sarah Kinosian; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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