Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro ready for talks with opposition

Mr Guaido, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly, says he has spoken repeatedly with President Trump and called for "great pressure" on the repressive Maduro regime.

President Donald Trump addressed US action in Venezuela, where people are abandoning socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro for an opposition leader, and warned USA citizens against traveling there.

A woman walks past a painting of US President Donald Trump in Caracas on January 29, 2019.

"I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition so that we could talk for the good of Venezuela", Maduro told the Russian state news agency in an interview in Caracas.

The surprise arrival of a giant Russian passenger plane to Venezuela amid a wave of anti-government unrest is fueling intrigue on social media and charges by the opposition that President Nicolas Maduro's administration is looking to shuttle overseas what's left of the country's depleted gold reserves.

The opposition-controlled legislature, meanwhile, named "diplomatic representatives" to a dozen countries that, like the USA, have recognized Guaido as the interim president.

Speaking earlier outside the National Assembly, Guaido said he is aware of personal risks, but added, "Venezuela is set on change, and the world is clearly conscious of what's happening".

In a CNN interview Tuesday, Guaido said it is possible to have a peaceful transition from Maduro and eventually hold free elections.

Last week the oil-rich but economically devastated Latin American country was plunged into uncertainty when the US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself "acting president".

The Supreme Court approved a request from Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek Saab to open a preliminary investigation into Guaido based on accusations he helped foreign countries to interfere in internal matters.

Guaido has thus far managed to avoid arrest, and the Supreme Court did not strip him of his legislative immunity, though the new investigation could signal that Maduro's administration is moving to take a more punitive approach. He added the consequences will hit "those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido".

On Monday, the United States blocked all assets of PDVSA in its jurisdiction and imposed ban on deals with the company.

The Kremlin condemned the sanctions as illegal interference, while China said they would lead to suffering for which Washington would bear responsibility.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reaffirmed the U.S. backs Guaidó, who declared himself president. But any money Citgo earns will be placed in a blocked account.

Former Canadian ambassador to Venezuela Ben Rowswell explained to CNN on Tuesday that authoritarian states like Russian Federation support Maduro, and oppose sanctions as an instrument of global policy, because they want to stress the primacy of rulers over their subjects. He also said it is very unlikely for Guaido to name a representative to OPEC. Maduro's time in office has included authoritarian crackdowns on political enemies and an economic crisis driven partly by the worldwide collapse of oil prices. For those who remain, a life of misery and danger gnaws just like the hunger created by chronic shortages of food and medicine. Inflation is out of control. Millions of his countrymen, and the leaders of at least 20 nations, similarly recognize him as such, and that number may swell if Maduro doesn't meet an end-of-week European Union deadline to schedule new elections.

The Russian foreign minister made reference to photographs of U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton carrying a notepad that suggested the Trump administration is considering a troop deployment to Venezuela's neighbor Colombia.

  • Zachary Reyes