CARACAS: The Venezuelan government has agreed to let the Vatican help mediate its long-running dispute with opposition leaders, the UNASUR regional group said on Thursday. Ernesto Samper, secretary general of the Union of South American Nations, said it “had received agreement from both sides” for a Vatican role in resolving the persistent political standoff. Venezuela’s opposition coalition earlier this month called for the Vatican to join an international mediation effort with the government, amid efforts by dissidents to launch a recall vote against President Nicolas Maduro. The opposition blames the socialist President’s mismanagement for the nation’s deep recession driven by falling prices for its oil exports, spurring an economic crisis that has sparked food shortages and deadly looting. The 12-member UNASUR groups Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guayana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.