CARACAS – Venezuela’s leftist incumbent Nicolas Maduro said on Saturday his delegation was preparing to travel to Norway for a fresh round of negotiations with the opposition.
“I thank the Norwegian government for its efforts to facilitate dialog about peace and stability in Venezuela. Our delegation is heading to Oslo, ready to work on the comprehensive agenda prepared and move towards signing agreements,” Maduro tweeted.
The tweet also included a video where he and First Lady Cilia Flores were seen holding a meeting with Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez and the delegation which will represent the regime in the meetings in Norway, headed by Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez.
He will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza and Hector Rodriguez, the governor of Miranda state, Maduro said.
The message by Maduro, who had attended a public event earlier in the day, came after opposition leader Juan Guaido – recognized as the interim president of the country by more than 50 countries – announced that he was accepting Norway’s mediation offer.
In a statement, the Norwegian government announced that the two parties would return to Oslo next week to continue the process initiated by the country.
“We reiterate our commitment to continue supporting the search for an agreed-upon solution between the parties in Venezuela,” it said.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Sřreide said in the statement that “Norway commends the parties for their efforts and appreciates their disposition.”
Venezuela has witnessed extreme political tensions since January, when Maduro was sworn in for another six-year term after winning elections which were termed fraudulent by the opposition. In response, Guaido swore in as interim president.
The political crisis has deepened since and a number of countries, including Norway, have been trying to encourage mechanisms to find a solution through negotiations.
The regime and the opposition held a number of discussions during the end of 2017 and early 2018 in the Dominican Republic, which ended without agreement. The regime ended up organizing elections in which the ruling party was almost the only participant and which were not recognized by the international community.
Although until now the opposition has refused to accept more talks with Maduro’s regime, calling it an attempt to buy time, Guaido announced that he would accept Norway’s mediation provided it resulted in an end to the “usurpation” of Maduro, a transitional government, and free and fair elections.
The opposition leader said he was responsibly using all options to achieve “urgent change” needed by Venezuela.
Norway has mediated in a number of talks in recent decades, facilitating the Oslo Accords between Israel and Palestine and discussions between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas.