World Bulletin / News Desk
Venezuela's embattled government and opposition leaders agreed Monday to hold talks to defuse a growing political crisis, but mistrust lingers after an attempt to recall the president was scuttled.
But opponents of socialist President Nicolas Maduro remained wary while the opposition itself is divided over the strategy, with some groups refusing to sit down with the government.
"Whether this dialogue has or doesn't have continuity will depend on concrete gestures from the government," said Jesus Torrealba, executive secretary of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), the opposition group taking part in the talks.
"The opening of this dialogue doesn't mean by a long shot that the struggle will stop."
But Torrealba suggested that the opposition could reconsider holding a planned protest on Thursday in front of the Miraflores presidential palace.
In a sign that it is apparently serious about the talks, the government on Monday night released five opposition members who had been imprisoned.
However, none were high-profile and the opposition maintains there are 100 "political prisoners" in Venezuela.
Seated at a museum on the outskirts of Caracas as the talks began late Sunday, Maduro expressed his "total and absolute commitment to dialogue."
He met Monday with senior US diplomat Thomas Shannon, who had traveled to Venezuela to back the political dialogue. The two had a "very positive" conversation about the start of the talks, the Venezuelan president said.
The US government has had difficult relations with Venezuela dating back to the late leftist icon Hugo Chavez.
"(Shannon's) visit will underscore our support for the ongoing dialogue process, and our interest in the well-being of the Venezuelan people," the State Department said.Last Mod: 01 Kasım 2016, 12:22