Venezuelan government signals 'partial agreements' at Mexico talks with opposition

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This combination of pictures shows Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido (L) speaking with the press in March 2019, and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) speaking during a press conference in Caracas in August 2015 (AFP/YURI CORTEZ, Juan BARRETO)
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A top Venezuelan official signaled on Saturday that talks between the government and the opposition aimed at resolving the country's long-standing political crisis have yielded "partial agreements".

The opposition is hoping to use the talks being held in Mexico City to secure guarantees of free and fair regional elections to be held in the fall, while the government of Nicolas Maduro wants to ease international sanctions on his economically crippled nation.

"We have been working mainly on partial agreements, especially those related to serving the people of Venezuela," parliament speaker Jorge Rodriguez, who was leading the government delegation, told reporters.

But officials provided no information on the nature of the agreements and a source in the opposition delegation told AFP that "so far nothing has been agreed."

The talks, mediated by Norway and hosted by Mexico, aim to resolve the crisis that has marked Maduro's eight-year rule.

The negotiations have a seven-point agenda including easing sanctions, political rights and electoral guarantees -- but not the departure of Maduro, accused by the opposition of fraudulent reelection in 2018.

The government is "very attentive" to all the economic guarantees that have been "wrested, blocked, stolen, withdrawn from the people of Venezuela", said Rodriguez, adding that Maduro seeks a partial if not total lifting of sanctions in exchange for concessions to the opposition.

The main opposition alliance headed by Juan Guaido reversed course this week when it announced that it would end a three-year election boycott and take part in mayoral and gubernatorial polls in November.

Speaking before the start of the negotiations, the head of the opposition delegation Gerardo Blyde expressed hope that the talks "will seek to alleviate the crisis, but the crisis comes from very serious basic problems, from a model which failed in Venezuela and which does not recognize the democratic order and the constitutional order."

He added that it's "a process which is beginning, which is hard, complex."

Neither Maduro nor Guaido, who is considered president by about 60 countries, was due to personally attend the closed-door talks, which were scheduled to run until Monday.

"We are in Mexico looking for a national salvation agreement to respond to the emergency, obtain the conditions for free and fair elections and the rescue of our democracy," Guaido tweeted.

Previous rounds of similar negotiations held in recent years have failed to resolve the crisis.

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