US, Venezuela meet to mend ties

2013-06-07 17:26
John Kerry and Elias Jaua (Picture: AP)

John Kerry and Elias Jaua (Picture: AP)

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Antigua - US and Venezuelan officials will meet soon for talks that could lead to the countries exchanging ambassadors for the first time since 2010, Venezuela's foreign minister said late on Thursday.

The meeting will be "in the next days, probably in Washington", said Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, speaking on the sidelines of the Organisation of American States general assembly meeting here.

Washington and Caracas have had a stormy relationship for years, even as Venezuela exports 900 000 barrels of oil per day to the United States.

Caracas and Washington have been operating embassies in each other's country without an ambassador since a diplomatic spat in 2010.

In one sign of the difficult ties, President Barack Obama has yet to acknowledge the victory of Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro - the hand-picked successor of the late leftist icon Hugo Chavez - in the 14 April presidential election.

Maduro won the controversial vote by a razor-thin margin in an election that his rival, centrist Henrique Capriles, has refused to concede.

Jaua did not give a date for the meeting, but told reporters that Venezuela will be represented by its charge d'affairs in Washington, Calixto Ortega.

"I believe there is good will on both sides," Jaua said about the upcoming meeting.

Jaua also downplayed Obama's failure to recognise Maduro's victory. It is "not an issue that matters”, he said.

During his lengthy presidency Chavez regularly criticised US "imperialism" and courted US foes like Iran and Syria.

Jaua, however, said it was the late leader who told Venezuelan officials "that we had to work towards normalising these relations" with Washington.

On Wednesday Jaua met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Antigua in a first step to mend ties.

Kerry described the meeting as "very, very positive”.

Both diplomats agreed that "we would like our countries to find a new way forward, establish a more positive relationship”, Kerry said.

The Kerry-Jaua meeting came on the same day that Venezuela expelled Timothy Tracy, a US filmmaker who said he was filming a documentary, but who authorities labelled a spy - a charge the United States denied.

Read more on:    john kerry  |  hugo chavez  |  barack obama  |  nicolas maduro  |  venezuela  |  us

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