Venezuela's Maduro says he is willing to establish 'new path' with US

Mr Donald Trump's government had slapped multiple economic sanctions on Venezuela, including an oil embargo in place since 2019. PHOTO: AFP/VENEZUELAN VICE-PRESIDENCY

CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Saturday (Jan 23) he was willing to "turn the page" with the US under President Joe Biden, calling for a "new path" after years of tension with Mr Donald Trump's White House.

"We are willing to walk a new path in our relations with Joe Biden's government based on mutual respect, dialogue, communication and understanding," the leftist leader told supporters, adding that he "is willing to turn the page" with the new US administration.

Mr Trump's government had slapped multiple economic sanctions on Venezuela, including an oil embargo in place since 2019, in an attempt to overthrow the socialist regime of Mr Maduro, whom the US has labelled a dictator.

After years of a frosty relationship, Caracas and Washington fully broke diplomatic ties on Jan 23, 2019, when the US government recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

After Mr Biden won the US presidential election in November, Mr Maduro congratulated the longtime politician, saying Venezuela was "ready for dialogue and good understanding with the people and government of the United States," repeating those sentiments again in December.

Analysts believe the Biden administration will take a more moderate stance on Venezuela and will support international mediation for the transition towards a new government.

That said, Mr Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Mr Anthony Blinken, has already described Mr Maduro as a "brutal dictator," and during his Senate confirmation hearing said he supported Mr Trump's policy of backing Mr Guaido.

The renewed support for Mr Guaido follows the swearing in of a new pro-Maduro Venezuelan National Assembly following December elections boycotted by the opposition, who claimed fraud.

The new Parliament technically left Mr Guaido, the chamber's former speaker, without a job, although he plans to maintain a parallel body of shadow opposition lawmakers that has gained foreign backing.

According to the UN, more than five million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015, fleeing political and economic turmoil.

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