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article imageVenezuela opposition doubtful over talks with government

By AFP     Sep 26, 2017 in World

Venezuela's opposition cast doubt Tuesday over whether it would participate in a scheduled round of exploratory talks with the government hosted by the Dominican Republic.

Delegates from President Nicolas Maduro's government and the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition were expected to meet Wednesday on the neutral ground of the Caribbean state.

"At the moment, the conditions aren't there in order to say that we will be present at the talks in the Dominican Republic," Luis Florido, one of the opposition deputies who took part in a preliminary round of talks earlier this month, told a news conference in Caracas.

Dominican President Danilo Medina, who hosted the exploratory talks on September 14-15 with former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero, announced a second round would take place on September 27.

The talks-about-talks are designed to be a precursor to full-fledged negotiations on resolving Venezuela's deep economic and political crisis.

Both sides agreed in the previous round to a "friendly countries" commission tasked with assisting the negotiations.

But in a letter to Medina on Tuesday, the MUD said "the environment is not conducive to continue this phase of exploratory talks."

However, Florido refused to rule out a last minute change of mind. "If the conditions emerge, we will communicate," he said.

But he stressed there currently was "no clear agenda for a new exploratory meeting."

He also said the opposition was waiting for the government to identify a third guarantor country, after naming Bolivia and Nicaragua.

The MUD chose Chile, Mexico and Paraguay as its guarantors at eventual talks.

"We are not going to lend ourselves to a government show," said Florido. "To resume the exploratory process, there must be very clear conditions."

Maduro said Monday that his representatives would be present at Wednesday's meeting.

"The Venezuela delegation will be there without fault, disciplined, punctual and ready to pursue dialogue," he said.

Florido said the opposition remained fixed on its "priority" of winning upcoming regional elections, "because that would deliver a very important blow" to Maduro's Socialist government.

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