Venezuela not willing to resume talks with opposition if Russia keeps them

Venezuela not willing to resume talks with opposition if Russia keeps them

Four sources close to the process told Reuters that the Venezuelan government is not willing to resume negotiations with the country's opposition on issues such as free elections and lifting economic sanctions if Norway acts as a facilitator as it did last year at talks in Mexico.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro has recently insisted on Russia's presence in any negotiations, two of the sources said. Russia is a strong ally of Maduro's government.

The Venezuelan opposition wants Norway to retain the facilitator role, according to an opposition source who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The Nordic country has successfully brokenred agreements to deal with past conflicts in Latin America and elsewhere.

The Venezuelan government and opposition said last week they were ready to return to the negotiating table, but they have not yet set a date. They met last year in Mexico City, but Maduro's representatives abandoned those talks in October.

More negotiations are expected to take place in Mexico in the first half of June, according to two of the sources.

Even though other countries, including Russia, were proposed as observers in the last talks, their presence was never formalized.

Venezuela's Information Ministry, the Norwegian and Russian embassies in Caracas and the White House did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Washington is strongly promoting a resumption of talks about elections, freeing political prisoners, and other demands.