Carter looks to meet with Venezuelan leaders

Former President Jimmy Carter is trying to arrange a meeting with Venezuelan leaders during a planned trip to the country in April. 

The Associated Press obtained a letter Cater sent last week, reaching out to President Nicolas Maduro amid the violent protests that have taken place in the country.   

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In a separate letter addressed to Henrique Capriles, who ran against Maduro in the last presidential election, Carter said a resolution could only be reached if both sides "send signals of their willingness to alleviate the present state of tension.”

The government must guarantee the right to peaceful protests and fair trials for protesters who have been arrested, Carter said. Carter called on the opposition to reject violence during protests and act within the constitution, according to the report. 

Carter has an April 29 trip planned to the country to promote a healthcare program to treat river blindness and hopes to meet with leaders while there. The Associated Press notes the trip must still be confirmed. 

Carter, along with the Carter Center, has promoted peace in the country and in different regions of the world. In 2002, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work since leaving office.  

The Carter Center has been an observer in numerous elections in Venezuela, including after a 2002 conflict that temporarily removed former President Hugo Chavez from office, according to its website. 

More than a dozen people have been killed in the recent protests against increased crime and the flailing economy. The demonstrations have widened from their origination at universities earlier this month in the first major uprising since Maduro took over the presidency after the death of Chavez last year. 

The United States earlier this week called for three Venezuelan diplomats to leave the U.S. after Venezuela did the same, accusing them of helping to ignite the protests. 

The administration had denied the claim and says the people of Venezuela should decide the country's future on their own.

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