Kerry Meets Maduro amid Escalating Tension in Venezuela

Cartagena, – US Secretary of State John Kerry has met Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, after a ceremony in the Colombian city of Cartagena to mark the signing of a peace agreement to end that country’s civil war.

US State Department Spokesman John Kirby said that Kerry spoke of the US concern about the economic and political challenges that have affected millions of Venezuelans, and he urged President Maduro to work constructively with opposition leaders to address these challenges. Kerry and Maduro also agreed to continue bilateral discussions that began in recent months, Kirby said.

Venezuela and the United States have been at loggerheaders since the government of late President Hugo Chavez, with frequent exchanges of barbs and expelling each others’ diplomats. They do not have ambassadors in place following expulsions several years ago.

Maduro’s government is struggling under an unraveling socialist economic system that suffers from triple-digit inflation, extensive shortages of staple products and food riots. Maduro says the country is victim of an “economic war” backed by the United States and the Venezuelan political elite.

Venezuela’s opposition called on Monday for a nationwide rally on October 12 to push for a referendum to recall Maduro this year as they seek to oust his Socialist Party in an early presidential election.

Source: Qatar News Agency