Norwegian delegation arrives in Venezuela to restart stalled dialogue: sources

CARACAS (Reuters) – A delegation from the Norwegian government has come to Venezuela to restart talks between the government of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition that were halted last week after Maduro’s allies pulled out, four sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

Maduro last week said the government would not attend a scheduled round of talks in Barbados to protest the opposition’s support for new U.S. sanctions against his government.

The Norwegian delegation arrived on Tuesday to speak separately with the opposition and the government to restart the proceedings, which are meant to resolve the country’s political stalemate, two of the sources said.

Neither Venezuela’s Information Ministry nor the Norwegian Foreign Ministry responded to requests for comment.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido in January invoked the constitution to assume a rival interim presidency on the grounds that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was fraudulent, and has promised to end an economic crisis that spurred mass migration.

Guaido, who has been recognized by more than 50 countries including the United States as Venezuela’s legitimate president, described the new Washington sanctions as “penalties for those who steal and profit from misery.”

Maduro calls Guaido a Washington-backed puppet who is seeking to overthrow his government.

The Norway-backed talks began in May following a failed uprising against Maduro but have not yet yielded any official results.

Separately, the United Nations launched an appeal on Wednesday calling for $223 million for humanitarian aid to 2.6 million Venezuelan children, women and men until the end of the year as part of a “scale-up strategy” launched last October.

The appeal includes 98 projects that will be implemented by more than 60 U.N. agencies and partners, and covers health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, food security and protection, the United Nations said.

“It seeks to strengthen the capacity of humanitarian organizations and further open the operational space in country, thus laying the foundation to widen the response and reach a larger target population in 2020,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Reporting by Mayela Armas, Vivian Sequera and Deisy Buitrago in Caracas and Michelle Nichols in New York; Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis

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