MOSCOW, May 15 -- Talks between US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Russian President Vladimir Putin demonstrate the serious approach of both Washington and Moscow to maintaining bilateral dialogue, chairman of the Valdai Discussion Club Andrey Bystritsky said Wednesday.
"These meetings and Pompeo's visit to Sochi itself represent an important signal. From the political point of view, the significance of this meeting is that it actually took place. Even if they reached some practical agreements, they will try to not disclose them publicly because those agreements will gradually show in what the parties in this discussion will do in the future," Bustritsky said. "In this case, Russia and the US demonstrated that are having a serious meeting, that the US secretary of state is ready to go to Sochi and spend a lot of time there in talks. Both sides demonstrate readiness to negotiate," he added. The talks also confirmed US President Donald Trump's intention to fulfill the promises he made during the election campaign, the expert noted. "In some sense, Trump is fulfilling his plans which he talked about before becoming president - he thinks that it is better to negotiate and reach agreements with Russians, as opposed to not talking and not reaching any agreements," the expert said.
Bystritsky said that one of the most important signals after Putin-Pompeo talks was the fact that the sides did not discuss the situation in Ukraine. "I would interpret this statement in the following manner: the basis formula is not being reconsidered. The Minsk Agreements remain in force. What is there to discuss? The agreements need to be implemented. Whether Ukraine is ready to fulfill them is another story," he explained. Among the topics on the international agenda discussed at the meeting, the most important issue is the situation around the Iranian nuclear deal, Bystritsky said. "Other issues, such as Venezuela and Syria, are important as well but also routine. It is clear that those are old conflicts, and it will be hard to overcome them completely. It is not clear how to resolve these problems," he concluded.
CARACAS, May 7 -- The Venezuelan authorities are investigating the deaths of five people in anti-government demonstrations on April 30, Prosecutor General Tarek Willian Saab said on Tuesday.
"A total of 233 people were detained, five people died. All these cases are being investigated by the prosecutor's office," Saab told Venevision TV channel. The prosecutor's office has already requested orders for arresting 18 "military and civilians who conspired" to overthrow the government, he said adding that 17 searches have been carried out as well. On April 30 a military group sided with the Venezuelan opposition, which led to massive anti-government protests in the country. Dozens of people were injured in clashes with security forces.
CARACAS, May 6 -- The current situation in Venezuela reflects a new round of struggle for control over that country’s resources and wealth, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told reporters at a news conference in Moscow on Monday.
"We are witnessing the historic struggle for control over our country’s wealth, control over incomes from the oil industry, for potential incomes from natural resources and energy resources, which Venezuela has," he stressed, commenting on US-backed pressure exerted on his country. Venezuela’s top diplomat noted that "the Venezuelan people came to power as a result of the Bolivarian Revolution (a social and political movement founded after Hugo Chavez was elected the President of Venezuela). "What we have seen over the past twenty years are various chapters of the fight for control over Venezuela’s oil potential," he stressed.
RIO DE JANEIRO, May 3 -- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido considers foreign military intervention as a measure of last resort to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
"I do not rule our a military intervention because it is entirely clear what the Maduro regime is about," Guaido told Folha de Sao Paolo newspaper. "But this is a measure of last resort. It is important to first try to faciliate a peaceful transition," he added. On January 23 Venezuelan National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido proclaimed himself as the country's acting president. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has described it as a coup attempt and announced severing diplomatic relations with the United States. On January 28 the US imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company.
Guaido was recognized as interim president by the Lima Group countries (except for Mexico), as well as by Albania, Georgia, the United States, and the Organization of American States. Several EU countries came forward with support for the Venezuelan parliament and expressed hope for new elections to resolve the crisis. Maduro was supported by Russia, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey. Belarus and China called for resolving all issues by peaceful means and spoke against any interference from the outside. The UN secretary general called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.
CARACAS, May 2 -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on air of the national television on Wednesday he was ready to adopt a special plan of changes to the system of the country’s administration.
"I declare Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5, the days of the great national dialogue, actions and proposals of all representatives of the people’s authority, so that they would tell the Bolivarian government and Nicolas Maduro what is necessary to be changed," the Venezuelan president stated. "I want to adopt a plan to change and improve everything, to correct mistakes," Maduro added. Protests erupted in Caracas and several other cities in Venezuela after a group of military servicemen sided with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. According to earlier reports, during the protests, which resulted in clashes with security forces, a few dozen people were injured in the capital of the country.
Guaido posted a video on Twitter on Tuesday urging the Venezuelan military to take to the streets in order to "end the usurpation" in the country. A group of military officers and head of the Popular Will party Leopoldo Lopez appeared Guaido’s video. National Assembly’s deputy from the state of Miranda Manuela Bolivar stated on Wednesday night that at least 78 people were injured in clashes with law enforcers during anti-government protests in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas and 89 more were arrested. Venezuelan Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday that at least eight law enforcers were wounded in clashes with protesters.
CARACAS, April 30 -- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for a military uprising, in a video shot at a Caracas air base showing him in front of a group of soldiers and accompanied by previously-detained activist Leopoldo Lopez.
In the three-minute video shot early Tuesday, Guaido said soldiers who took to the streets would be acting to protect Venezuela's constitution. He made the comments a day before a planned anti-government rally. "The moment is now," he said, as his political mentor Lopez and several heavily armed soldiers backed by a single armored vehicle looked on. Lopez has been under house arrest for leading an anti-government push in 2014. He said Tuesday that he had been freed by members of the military, and reiterated Guaido's call on all Venezuelans to peacefully take to the streets.
"Today, valiant soldiers, valiant patriots, valiant supporters of the constitution, have answered our call," declared Guaido in the video. He addressed the rest of Venezuela's security services, which have thus far remained loyal to President Nicolas Maduro: "I invite you to take to the streets." There appeared to be about two dozen troops behind Guaido in the video posted early Tuesday morning, with a couple of armored vehicles behind them. The Trump administration was one of the first major world powers to recognize Guadio as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, shunning Maduro after a 2018 election widely deemed flawed and undemocratic saw him win another term.
WASHINGTON, April 30 -- Erik Prince - the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and a prominent supporter of US President Donald Trump - has been pushing a plan to deploy a private army to help topple Venezuela's socialist president, Nicholas Maduro.
Over the last several months, the sources said, Prince has sought investment and political support for such an operation from influential Trump supporters and wealthy Venezuelan exiles. In private meetings in the United States and Europe, Prince sketched out a plan to field up to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, according to two sources with direct knowledge of Prince's pitch. One source said Prince has conducted meetings about the issue as recently as mid-April. White House National Security Council Spokesman Garrett Marquis declined to comment when asked whether Prince had proposed his plan to the government and whether it would be considered. A person familiar with the administration's thinking said the White House would not support such a plan.
Venezuela opposition officials have not discussed security operations with Prince, said Guaido spokesman Edward Rodriguez, who did not answer additional questions from Reuters. Politically far-fetched The Maduro government did not respond to a request for comment. Some US and Venezuelan security experts called it politically far-fetched and potentially dangerous because it could set off a civil war. A Venezuelan exile close to the opposition agreed but said private contractors might prove useful, in the event Maduro’s government collapses, by providing security for a new administration in the aftermath. A spokesman for Prince, Marc Cohen, said this month that Prince "has no plans to operate or implement an operation in Venezuela" and declined to answer further questions. Lital Leshem - the director of investor relations at Prince's private equity firm, Frontier Resource Group - earlier confirmed Prince’s interest in Venezuela security operations. "He does have a solution for Venezuela, just as he has a solution for many other places," she said, declining to elaborate on his proposal. The two sources with direct knowledge of Prince's pitch said it calls for starting with intelligence operations and later deploying 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire from Colombia and other Latin American nations to conduct combat and stabilisation operations.
For Prince, the unlikely gambit represents the latest effort in a long campaign to privatise warfare. The wealthy son of an auto-parts tycoon has fielded private security contractors in conflict zones from Central Asia to Africa to the Middle East. One of Prince's key arguments, one source said, is that Venezuela needs what Prince calls a "dynamic event" to break the stalemate that has existed since January, when Guaido - the head of Venezuela's National Assembly - declared Maduro’s 2018 re-election illegitimate and invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency. Maduro has denounced Guaido, who has been backed by most western nations, as a US puppet who is seeking to foment a coup.
CARACAS, April 7 -- The Venezuelan system of electricity generation and distribution was attacked not merely from the United States but also from South American countries, President Nicolas Maduro said at a rally in the capital of the country.
"I have already said that we confirmed the version of attacks governed from Houston and Chicago during the investigation," Maduro said. "We found new sources of aggression from Chile and Columbia, used to damage the power system of Venezuela," he noted. Venezuela sees major disruptions in operations of the power supply systems affecting the majority of regions from early March. The shutdown of the largest scale occurred in the country on March 7, when Caracas and the majority of states were left without electricity for several days. More than five million Venezuelans took place in the Saturday marches in support of the government, Maduro noted. "Today, more than five million Venezuelans mobilized all over the country for the operation in support of the freedom and it was successful," the president said.
Maduro asked governments of Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and countries of CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) to help in establishing the dialog between the government and the opposition in Venezuela. "Venezuela asks for help and support in setting the dialog for achievement of mutual understanding among Venezuelans. I confirm my desire and readiness to find a solution through talks for the sake of the future of the country," Maduro said in his speech during the rally.
Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and fourteen member-states of CARICOM should give a new impetus to the mechanism for resolution of crisis in Venezuela, he said. "The dialog will be able to start with their assistance," he added.
CARACAS, April 4 -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has put the country’s military on alert because of a plot by the opposition to assassinate him that was exposed.
He called on militia units to join the pro-government armed forces known as colectivos, the Venezuelan leader said in a phone interview with Venezolana de Television TV. "I know about their criminal plans - those who lead the opposition - their plans to kill me," Maduro specified. According to him, because of this, "the country’s military units have been put on alert" and a decision was made to beef up "intelligence and counterintelligence activities." Maduro said that the militia joining the colectivos was necessary to "ensure peace" in Venezuelan cities and towns. President Maduro said that this measure "is constitutional, legitimate and necessary." The criminals "paid off" by the forces opposing the current authorities shouldn’t be allowed to incite violence.
The Venezuelan leader also believes that the nation’s current opposition headed by Juan Guaido is "the most criminal" over the last 20 years. Maduro once again accused his political opponents inside the country and the US administration of sabotaging the country’s power plants and stations that had led to serious problems with power supplies. Since late March, Venezuelans unsatisfied with the lack of water and electricity have been protesting in Caracas and other cities around the country. According to the Foro Penal Venezuelan non-governmental organization, from March 29 to April 1 almost 50 people were detained during these protests. The demonstrations turned sour on a number of occasions, but no one was injured in the clashes with the police and pro-government forces.
On January 23, Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas. Several countries, including the United States, most of the EU states, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him. Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US. In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro.
CARACAS, April 2 -- Venezuela’s Supreme Court has asked the Constituent Assembly to strip opposition leader Juan Guaido of parliamentary immunity over his violation of a ban on leaving the country.
"A request will be sent to the Constituent Assembly’s president that Juan Guaido be stripped of parliamentary immunity for failing to abide by the Court’s decisions," Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno said, as cited by the El Nacional newspaper. Venezuela’s Supreme Court earlier barred Guaido from leaving the country. However, on February 22, he traveled to the Colombian border city of Cucuta, which hosts a humanitarian aid distribution center. Guaido returned to Venezuela after visiting Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Ecuador. Venezuela crisisOn January 23, Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas.
Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US. On February 4, most of the European Union member states recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference. The United Nations secretary general, in turn, called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.