Maduro promotes dialogue with opposition

(Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday he was committed to talks with the opposition to resolve a political crisis, hours after opposition leader Juan Guaido said there would “never” be a good time to negotiate with a “dictatorship.”

Guaido and Maduro had both sent representatives to Oslo in May for discussions that Norway’s government had encouraged, but they were unable to reach any agreement. On Saturday, people familiar with the negotiations told Reuters that talks would restart this week.

But Guaido on Tuesday said there had been “no official statement that we would attend a new round” of dialogue.

“It is never going to be a good moment to mediate … with kidnappers, human rights violators, and a dictatorship,” Guaido told reporters at the opposition-controlled National Assembly legislature, which he heads.

Few details have been released about the talks in Oslo between representatives of Maduro and Guaido, who invoked Venezuela’s constitution to assume a rival presidency in January, denouncing Maduro’s May 2018 re-election as illegitimate.

Guaido’s comments came as the opposition expressed outrage over the death last week of Venezuelan navy captain Rafael Acosta in military custody. The captain’s wife and rights groups accuse Maduro’s government of torturing Acosta and refusing to clarify the circumstances of his death.

Venezuela’s chief prosecutor on Monday charged two intelligence officials with homicide in connection with Acosta’s death, without explaining how he was killed.

In an address on state television Tuesday evening, Maduro made no reference to Acosta’s death but said his government was “committed … to the Norway dialogue” and that the talks aimed to create “a permanent table for dialogue and solutions.”

“That process is going well,” he said. “There will be good news in the coming weeks about how well the contact, negotiation and pre-agreement processes are going.”