Interview: Venezuelan government official says talks with opposition 'have not failed'

Ongoing talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition have not failed, despite the latter's refusal to set a new date, a senior official said on Thursday.

Diosdado Cabello, president of Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, told Xinhua news agency that the government remains committed to a negotiated solution to the country's political crisis.

"Dialogue has not failed, I do not think it has failed," Cabello said of the talks hosted by Norway.

The representatives of the Venezuelan government and the opposition met face-to-face in May in Norwegian capital of Oslo for talks to ease the political standoff in the South American country.

However, "every time there are attempts at dialogue, the opposition sectors are the ones who leave" the negotiating table, Cabello said.

"Because they cannot agree among themselves. There is no clarity about who their spokespeople are," he said. "There is no clarity because there is no unity, there is no leadership or political direction."

Cabello, who is also vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, said the government still endorses the path of dialogue despite the difficulties the nation faces.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at a Navy base in Catia La Mar, Venezuela, May 14, 2019. /Reuters Photo

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at a Navy base in Catia La Mar, Venezuela, May 14, 2019. /Reuters Photo

The opposition asked for a suspension of the upcoming dialogue with the government after captain Rafael Acosta Arevalo died last week while in custody on charges of terrorism and attempted assassination.

"The death of this person is a very bad excuse" for calling off the dialogue, he said.

Even after a failed military coup mounted by opposition leaders, President Nicolas Maduro's government is still willing to talk, even with those involved in the incident, he noted.

"We did not suspend (talks) when they launched a coup on April 30. As the winners, we could have sat down and fixed a position at the time," he said.

Cabello said opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself "interim president," was a problem for the opposition and his Washington backers.

"They will decide what they are going to do with him. Right now he is totally replaceable, disposable and not recyclable," he said.

The Venezuelan government "does not want to fight with anyone," Cabello said, calling on Washington to sit down and normalize relations.

"The United States should understand at this point that if you want to talk to Venezuela's president, you have to call Nicolas (Maduro)," Cabello said. 

(Cover: Diosdado Cabello was sworn in as the new president of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), June 19, 2018. /Xinhua Photo)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency