WASHINGTON, May 26 -- The only thing that can be negotiated with the Venezuelan government is the departure of incumbent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the US State Department said in a statement published on Saturday.
The US expressed hope that the upcoming talks between members of the Venezuelan opposition and government officials in Oslo will focus on this issue. "The United States supports the desire of the Venezuelan people to recover their democracy and bring the illegitimate Maduro regime to an end. Previous efforts to negotiate an end to the regime and free elections have failed because the regime has used them to divide the opposition and gain time," the statement says. "Free elections cannot be overseen by a tyrant. As we have repeatedly stated, we believe the only thing to negotiate with Nicolas Maduro is the conditions of his departure. We hope the talks in Oslo will focus on that objective, and if they do, we hope progress will be possible," the US State Department continued. The US also demanded to release "800 political prisoners the Maduro regime held as of May 20". "We join supporters of democracy in Venezuela throughout the world in condemning their illegal imprisonment by the Maduro regime and in demanding their immediate release," the statement concluded.
Situation in Venezuela
Juan Guaido Venezuelan opposition leader and speaker of the National Assembly, 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, Caracas, on January 23. On the same day, the United States recognized him as an interim president, and the countries of the Lima Group (excluding Mexico) and the Organization of American States followed suit. Venezuela's incumbent President Nicolas Maduro blasted the move as an attempted coup and announced cutting diplomatic ties with the United States.
Most European Union member states recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro.
On April 30, a group of military representatives expressed support for Guaido, which started a wave of massive anti-government protests in the country. Five people died and hundreds were injured in clashed with law enforcement. Non-governmental organizations reported that nearly 340 protesters were detained.