CARTAGENA, Colombia: Venezuela’s embattled President Nicolas Maduro met Monday with top US diplomat John Kerry on the sidelines of a landmark peace deal signing between the Colombian government and FARC rebels.
“President @NicolasMaduro held respectful, top level meeting with @JohnKerry,” Venezuela’s foreign minister tweeted.
Venezuela is in a highly tense political crisis, with the South American oil-exporting nation slammed by low crude prices, inflation, food shortages and violence.
If Maduro loses a recall vote expected after January 10—four years into his six-year term—he would be replaced by his hand-picked vice president.
Polls indicate eight in 10 Venezuelans want a change in government.
Violence erupted in 2014 at rival pro- and anti-government demonstrations, leaving 43 people dead.
Washington and Caracas have had tense bilateral ties for years.
The Maduro-Kerry encounter in Cartagena, which diplomatic sources said was brief, took place on the sidelines of the historic peace deal signing in this Colombian resort city on the Caribbean coast.
The four-year peace process ended Colombia’s civil strife, the last major armed conflict in the Americas. The accord remains to be ratified by referendum in a week.
Colombian authorities estimate the territorial and ideological conflict has killed 260,000 people, left 45,000 missing and uprooted 6.9 million. AFP