CARACAS -- Venezuelan Charge d'Affaires to the US Calixto Ortega met with Assistant US Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson at the State Department on Tuesday.
The meeting took place three weeks after the Foreign Minister Elias Jaua met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Guatemala on the sidelines of the Organization of American States meeting held there.
Jaua has said that he and Kerry discussed "a series of incidents that have happened to put them in their proper context, in their proper perspective" and that were preventing the normalization of relations between Venezuela and the United States.
Jaua said that he and Kerry agreed a "proactive agenda," which begins with a high-level discussion between the two countries to discuss a range of issues geared towards re-installing ambassadors in both countries. Despite the fact that the US is the largest customer for Venezuela oil and Venezuela is the fifth largest supplier of oil to the US, the two countries have not had ambassadors in each others countries since former Venezuela President Hugo Chavez expelled US Ambassador Patrick Duddy in 2008 in "solidarity with Bolivia" and failed to approve his nominated successor in 2010.
The US reciprocated by expelling Venezuela Ambassador to the US Bernardo Alvarez after Chavez publicly said that Venezuela would reject the newly designated US Ambassador Larry Palmer.
The 11:15 meeting between Ortega and Jacobson was closed to the press, but it was the first meeting between the two since President Nicolas Maduro appointed Calixto as Charge d'Affaires on April 23.
Assistant Secretary Jacobson told Voice of America earlier this month that the United States has “new energy” on the issue of relations with Venezuela.
While there is no road map yet for the reestablishment of relations, she said the US hopes that an exchange of ambassadors will take place soon, and that there is new impetus to reestablish relationships between the countries.
Jacobson was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs on March 30, 2012, but had been serving as Acting Assistant Secretary since July 18, 2011. A career public servant, prior to that she had served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere, was Deputy Chief of Mission in Peru, and worked at the National Security Council.
Prior to his appointment as Charge d'Affaires, Ortega was a member of Venezuela’s delegation to the Latin American parliament. Before that, he had been a Deputy in Venezuela's National Assembly, where he headed the powerful oil committee.