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Venezuelan govt, opposition coalition agree to hold talks

The Venezuelan Government and the opposition coalition on Wednesday agreed to hold formal talks in a bid to end weeks of violent unrest that has left 39 dead and over 600 injured.

The Venezuelan Vice President, Jorge Arreaza, said the talks, expected to begin on Thursday, would focus on Venezuela’s high crime rate and economic problems.

“We are not trying to convince the opposition to become `Chavistas’ nor are they trying to convince us to abandon the path of the revolution and socialism,” he said.

The agreement made at meeting was proposed by visiting Union of South American Nations foreign ministers.

However, it was the first step toward ending the unrest which erupted in February when anti-government protestors took to the streets over crime, inflation and food shortages, and called for President Nicolas Maduro’s resignation.

Maduro commented later in his usual radio programme that the meeting with the opposition coalition representatives paved the way for a respectful political dialogue.

He also insisted in the meeting that there must be need for coexistence and tolerance between both sides in a heavily polarised country.

The opposition’s Democratic Unity Roundtable leader, Ramon Aveledo, said the coalition would ensure that the dialogue was carried out under equal terms and broadcast to the whole country for transparency.

In his statement to the press, Aveledo said that respect to the constitution would be a key element of the talks.

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