Venezuela delegation arrives in Mexico for talks with opposition


FILE PHOTO: Jorge Rodriguez, President of Venezuela's Congress and Head of Nicolas Maduro's negotiating team along with members of Venezuela's government speaks to the media after arriving at the International airport to resume political talks between Venezuela's government and the opposition, in Mexico City, Mexico November 25, 2022. REUTERS/Paola Garcia

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A delegation representing the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Mexico City on Friday to sign a "social agreement" with its political opponents, after talks between the two sides have been on ice for more than a year.

Mediated by Norway, the negotiations will resume after months of informal meetings and could ease U.S. oil sanctions on Venezuela while boosting oil major Chevron's activity in the country's energy sector.

The government's delegation is led by congressional leader Jorge Rodriguez of the ruling socialists, and the opposition group is headed by politician Gerardo Blyde.

The talks aim to break a bitter impasse between Maduro's authoritarian regime and the divided political opposition, amid a mass exodus over the past decade of Venezuelans fleeing economic misery.

On Saturday, both sides are expected to sign an agreement that aims to address vital social needs, according to the government.

Arriving in the Mexican capital, Rodriguez's nine-person delegation includes Camilla Fabri, the wife of Colombian businessman Alex Saab.

Saab's extradition to the United States in October 2021 on money laundering charges angered the Venezuelan government and prompted the suspension of the talks. Since then, Maduro has demanded Saab's release.

Rodriguez has said that the agreement seeks to address problems in the provision of public services, but has not provided details on the amounts or deadlines to receive funds, which would be administered by the United Nations.

On Thursday, Maduro said the talks will allow Venezuela "to recover kidnapped resources and invest them in the people," adding, "Then we will see what other issues can be discussed."

The opposition sees the talks as a way out of a prolonged political crisis with an eventual deal on "free and fair" presidential elections in 2024.

The opposition delegation was expected to arrive in Mexico later on Friday.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Deisy Buitrago; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Leslie Adler))

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