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U.S. formally re-establishes direct dialogue with Venezuela

By Andrew V. Pestano
U.S. formally re-establishes direct dialogue with Venezuela
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez on Tuesday during the Organization of American States' 46th General Assembly in the Dominican Republic. Photo courtesy of Venezuelan Foreign Ministry

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, June 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez to discuss improving relations as the South American country faces various crises.

After the Tuesday meeting, Kerry said he would send Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. to Caracas, the Venezuelan capital.

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"We have agreed to maintain an immediate dialogue that will work for her, for me and for Tom Shannon, and will continue conversations," Kerry said.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Kerry called for the release of political prisoners in Venezuela and for "national dialogue in Venezuela to address their challenges."

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"The secretary is, as we speak, meeting with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rodriguez," Kirby said during a press briefing Tuesday. "The meeting is providing the secretary an opportunity as well to exchange views and to reiterate our call for national dialogue in order to find solutions to the political, economic, human rights and social challenges that are facing Venezuela right now, as well as to call for respect for the constitutional mechanisms, including the recall referendum process."

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is facing efforts by the opposition to create a recall referendum this year that would remove him from the presidency amid an escalating economic and social crisis.

Venezuela's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the pair met to "renew communication channels and normalize diplomatic relations."

"During the dialogue, developed in an atmosphere of respect and cordiality, the two diplomats stressed the importance of this type of approach as the only way toward understanding the real situation in Venezuela," the ministry wrote in a statement.

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The meeting occurred as the Organization of American States holds its 46th General Assembly in the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo.

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