SANTO DOMINGO – Friday’s talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition concluded with “notable advances” and an accord to meet again next month, Dominican President Danilo Medina said.
“Some issues remain that will have to be discussed further,” Medina said in his capacity as host and co-sponsor of the negotiations along with former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
The foreign ministers of Chile and Mexico, as well as senior representatives from Bolivia, Nicaragua and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, were also present for the session as “accompanying” nations invited by the opposition and the government, respectively.
Speaking to reporters following the conversations, Medina said he could not detail the progress made Friday because the various agenda items are mutually dependent, meaning that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.
The talks are taking place “in a completely serious atmosphere,” the Dominican president said, declining to take questions.
The next round is scheduled for Jan. 12, he said.
While some opposition figures are boycotting the dialogue, the parties holding the majority of seats in congress have decided to take part in the hope of obtaining guarantees that the 2018 presidential election will be free and fair.
Leftist incumbent Nicolas Maduro has announced he will seek another term.
Besides assurances about the election, the opposition wants the government to allow creation of a “humanitarian corridor” for the import of food and medicine, to release so-called political prisoners and to restore the powers of the National Assembly, which has been pushed aside in favor of a National Constituent Assembly dominated by Maduro supporters.
The government would like the opposition to urge the United States to lift economic sanctions, and to recognize the legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly.
National Assembly speaker Julio Borges led the opposition delegation to the talks in Santo Domingo. The government was represented by Cabinet ministers Jorge Rodriguez and Elias Jaua, National Constituent Assembly president Delcy Rodriguez and veteran diplomat Roy Chaderton.