Venezuela in rare diplomatic overture to US

CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuela on Sunday made a rare diplomatic overture to the United States, suggesting it could be time for better ties.

"We are going to remain open to normalizing relations with the United States," Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said on Televen television on Sunday.

"The first thing would be to resume diplomatic representation at the highest level," he said.

The country's late socialist president Hugo Chavez was a staunch critic of the United States, and his successor Nicolas Maduro is still feeling out its footing with Washington.

Mr Chavez for more than 14 years unleashed verbal broadsides on US leaders before his death in March. The United States and Venezuela since 2010 have not even had ambassadors in their embassies in their respective capitals.

Mr Maduro, who earlier said his government would like to increase dialogue with the United States, has selected lawmaker Calixto Ortega as its potential US envoy.

US President Barack Obama however has not congratulated Mr Maduro for his controversial, razor-thin April 14 election, as Mr Maduro's opposition rival Henrique Capriles presses claims that the Venezuelan presidential election was marred by irregularities.

Mr Maduro meanwhile slammed Mr Obama "the top leader of devils" after he commented on post-election unrest in Venezuela.

Despite the bad blood, Venezuela sells about 900,000 barrels of oil every day to the United States.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.