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Maduro offers to negotiate with opposition amid Venezuela crisis

Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the interim president last week.

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Nicolas Maduro (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Nicolas Maduro (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Nicolas Maduro (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he is willing to negotiate with the country’s opposition.

His remarks in an interview with the Russian state-owned RIA Novosti news agency came amid a dire political crisis in Venezuela.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the interim president last week and has urged citizens to challenge Mr Maduro with walkouts on Wednesday.

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Juan Guaido (Rodrigo Abd/AP)

Juan Guaido (Rodrigo Abd/AP)

AP/PA Images

Juan Guaido (Rodrigo Abd/AP)

Mr Maduro told RIA Novosti he is “willing to sit down for talks with the opposition for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future”.

He said the talks could be held with mediation by other countries. Russia is one of the staunchest supporters of Mr Maduro and has offered to mediate. He also mentioned Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and the Vatican.

Violent street demonstrations erupted last week after Mr Guaido held a major opposition rally in Caracas and declared that he had assumed presidential powers under the constitution and planned to hold fresh elections to end Mr Maduro’s “dictatorship”.

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Anti-government protests in Caracas (Fernando Llano/AP)

Anti-government protests in Caracas (Fernando Llano/AP)

AP/PA Images

Anti-government protests in Caracas (Fernando Llano/AP)

On Tuesday, Mr Guaido urged Venezuelans to step outside their homes and workplaces for two hours on Wednesday in the first mass mobilisation since last week’s big protests.

Mr Maduro accused Donald Trump of ordering a hit on him from Colombia.

He said he was aware of “orders” by the US president for the Colombian government and the local mafia to kill him.

Russia has provided Mr Maduro’s government with loans and weapons.

A senior official said on Tuesday that Moscow is expecting “problems” ahead of an upcoming payment on Russia’s 3 billion dollar (£2.3 billion) loan.

Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday:  “Maduro willing to negotiate with opposition in Venezuela following US sanctions and the cutting off of oil revenues. Guaido is being targeted by Venezuelan Supreme Court. Massive protest expected today. Americans should not travel to Venezuela until further notice.”

PA Media