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Venezuela president meets Shannon amid start of talks with opposition



US top diplomat Tom Shannon and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have held a meeting in the capital Caracas.

The Monday meeting between the adversary countries’ officials followed the recent initiation of talks between the government and the opposition in an effort to end the country’s political crisis and economic woes.

This handout picture released by Venezuelan Presidency shows Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (R) shaking hands with Venezuelan opposition spokesman Jesus Torrealba, before a meeting between Venezuela’s government and opposition leaders in Caracas on October 30, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

According to an earlier statement by the US State Department, Shannon would stay in the South American country until November 2 to “underscore our support for the ongoing dialogue process, and our interest in the well-being of the Venezuelan people.”

The 57-year-old was shown on Venezuelan television while shaking hands with Maduro and speaking with other ruling Socialist Party officials in the Miraflores presidential palace.

International mediators, including Vatican envoy Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, as well as others from Spain, Panama and the Dominican Republic were also attending the talks between the government and the opposition.

Since 2014, Venezuela has been grappling with protests against Maduro, who is under fire by his critics amid an economic crisis.

Maduro had formerly accused the opposition of having launched a US-backed economic war against the oil-reach country in an attempt to trigger a coup d’état.

Supporters of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro attend a meeting in Caracas on October 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

For more than a decade, Caracas and Washington have been ideological loggerheads.

Last year, Shannon had tried to put an end to diplomatic fighting between the two states, but negotiations failed to get through.

Under the administration of President Barack Obama, the US has managed to relatively normalize ties with Cuba, another old-timer US foe in the region.

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