US officials to meet with government of Russian ally Venezuela: report
Senior U.S. officials on Saturday went to Venezuela, a Russian ally, to meet with the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, people familiar with the matter told The New York Times.
A delegation including senior State Department and White House officials is traveling to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, sources told the Times.
It is not known how long the officials will stay in Venezuela or who they will be meeting with.
This comes as Venezuela and fellow Latin American Russia allies Nicaragua and Cuba this week abstained or did not vote on United Nations resolutions condemning Russian aggression, according to the Times, indicating that the countries may be distancing themselves from Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Maduro has also signaled that he would be open to restarting Venezuela’s oil trade with the U.S. as President Biden mulls reducing U.S. imports of Russian oil.
“Here lies the oil of Venezuela, which is available for whomever wants to produce and buy it, be it an investor from Asia, Europe or the United States,” Maduro said Thursday, according to the Times.
This will be the most high-level meeting between the U.S. and Venezuela in Venezuela’s capital city in years, the Times noted.
Venezuela and the U.S. severed all diplomatic relations in 2019 following the Trump administration’s recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president after Maduro secured a second term in an election deemed illegitimate by most of the international community.
The Trump administration then imposed sanctions on individuals with ties to Maduro’s government and on companies involved in exporting Venezuelan oil in an effort to provoke regime change in the country.
In response to the sanctions, Venezuela turned to Russia, as well as Iran and China, for diplomatic and economic aid, the Times reported. Russian energy companies and banks have since played a major role in Venezuela’s exporting of oil.
The Hill has reached out to the State Department and White House for comment.