Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said he was “optimistic” as talks between the government and the opposition to resolve the country’s political crisis resumed on Monday, BBC informs.
The two sides have been engaged in a bitter power struggle since January and preliminary talks held in May in Oslo petered out without an agreement. Maduro said a six-point agenda was being discussed at the meeting which is being hosted by Barbados.
Maduro did not give further details on the talks. The Norwegian foreign ministry is again acting as a mediator, as it did at the previous meeting in Oslo, but has so far only commented to confirm the meeting was taking place.
Maduro revealed that Monday’s meeting lasted five hours. He also said he thought “a path to peace” could be found.
Juan Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, laid out the opposition’s aim on Twitter on Sunday. The statement [in Spanish] said the goal was to “negotiate a way out from the dictatorship”.
Guaido and Maduro have been at loggerheads since January, when the former invoked the constitution and declared himself interim president, arguing that the elections which had returned Maduro to power for a second term in 2018 had not been free and fair.
Venezuela’s military, a powerful force in the country, and influential allies such as China and Russia have stuck by Maduro, BBC adds.
An attempt by Guaido to get the military to switch allegiance to him failed, and the country remains in limbo with both men claiming to be the legitimate president.
Meanwhile, a severe economic crisis has exacerbated and shortages of food and medicines have grown even more acute. United Nations figures suggest four million people have fled the country since 2015. The government blames the shortages on U.S. sanctions but the opposition says they are down to years of mismanagement.