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Venezuela Govt. Pulls Out Of Talks With Opposition Over US Sanctions


Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has canceled a Norway-brokered negotiation with the opposition this week in protest against a set of sweeping U.S. sanctions targeting his government.

The two-day talks with representatives of Opposition leader Juan Guaido, aimed at resolving the country's political crisis, was scheduled to begin Thursday in Barbados.

Maduro has decided to not send the Venezuelan delegation "due to the grave and brutal aggression" being carried out by the Trump administration against Venezuela, news agencies reported citing a government statement.

"I've decided we're not going to continue (the talks). This week, the North American imperialists went crazy. The Bolivarian fury is ready for battle," Maduro said on television, referring to President Donald Trump's executive order Monday freezing all Venezuelan government assets in the United States.

The Treasury Department has threatened to impose further sanctions on any American or foreign company or individual that maintains business relations with the Venezuelan government or its affiliates.

The Trump Administration has so far issued 30 rounds of sanctions targeting around 200 individuals and entities.

Sanctions have covered corruption networks that steal from the Venezuelan people; key sectors of the Venezuelan economy including the oil and gold sectors; Venezuela's military and intelligence sectors; and Maduro's financial lifelines including the Venezuelan Central Bank, the Venezuelan Development Bank, and Petroleos de Venezuela.

The U.S. Government has also revoked more than 700 visas, including those held by former regime diplomatic personnel.

The White House said Trump took the action to isolate the illegitimate Maduro regime from the global financial system.

The United States will use every appropriate tool to end Maduro's hold on Venezuela, support the Venezuelan people's access to humanitarian assistance, and ensure a democratic transition in Venezuela, it added.

Venezuela's opposition hailed the sanctions saying it would protect state-owned refiner Citgo Petroleum Corporation's shares from the risk of being seized by its creditors.

Citgo Petroleum is a U.S.-based refiner, but the majority of its shares are owned by PDVSA, Venezuelan government's oil giant.

In the ongoing power struggle, Guaido, who is the President of Venezuela's National Assembly, has proclaimed himself as the country's President.

More than 50 countries, including the United States and several members of the European Union, have recognized him as the Interim President.

But the authoritarian leader Maduro has rejected Guido's demand to resign, insisting that he is the legitimate president.

Venezuela is already a failed nation, suffering from food and medicine shortages, skyrocketing inflation, collapsed currency, and human right abuses. Tens of thousands of people are reportedly fleeing the Latin American country.

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