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Caribbean foreign ministers hold talks with Venezuelan Opposition leader

CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) foreign ministers on Saturday met with Venezuela’s Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó, who has declared himself the interim president of the South American country.

The meeting took place in Barbados and while Guaidó was not physically present, he joined the deliberations by video conferencing. Two members of his delegation, were however present for the talks that were also attended by Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados, Marie Legault, who has a long career in international diplomacy.

She is reported to have attended the talks as a member of the Lima Group that has opposed President Nicolas Maduro’s second term as president and voted on a resolution at the Organisation of American States (OAS) to that effect in January.

At least four Caribbean countries, St Lucia, Bahamas, Jamaica and Haiti sided with the Lima Group and last Friday met with United States President Donald Trump to further discuss the Venezuelan situation.

Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, her Trinidad and Tobago counterpart, Dennis Moses, as well as the CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque, and the St. Kitts-Nevis Foreign Affairs Minister Mark Brantley attended the Bridgetown talks.

St. Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris is the current chairman of the 15-member regional grouping.
CARICOM leaders at their inter-sessional summit in St Kitts-Nevis last month had reiterated their position of non-interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and said they were prepared to mediate in the process to bring about a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

In a message posted on his Twitter page Guaidó, who has the backing of the United States, Canada and several other western countries in his bid to unseat President Nicolas Maduro, said the talks were mainly an opportunity for him “to express his views on the situation in Venezuela and to discuss the way forward”.

He also reiterated the “very strong relationship” between Caracas and the 15-member CARICOM grouping.

Informed sources told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that a similar meeting is being planned with Maduro and his delegation and that the talks could take place as early as this week. No venue has yet been given for that round of discussions.

The sources said that CARICOM will issue a statement regarding the deliberations held with Guaidó on Saturday.

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