Putin pledges to send food to Venezuela

Kingston Whig-Standard - - WORLD NEWS -

CARA­CAS, Venezuela — Rus­sia is pledg­ing to send sev­eral thou­sand tons of wheat to Venezuela on a monthly ba­sis, po­ten­tially help­ing al­le­vi­ate the trou­bled South Amer­i­can coun­try’s food cri­sis and fur­ther tight­en­ing re­la­tions be­tween the long-time al­lies.

In a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion Thurs­day, Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin told his Venezue­lan coun­ter­part that Rus­sia is will­ing to be­gin de­liv­er­ing food and strengthen com­mer­cial ties, ac­cord­ing to Venezuela’s For­eign Min­istry.

Putin’s of­fice con­firmed the con­ver­sa­tion but did not pro­vide any in­for­ma­tion about the trade agree­ment.

The ges­ture of sup­port for the Maduro ad­min­is­tra­tion comes at a key mo­ment. Re­gional gov­ern­ments have been dis­tanc­ing them­selves from the em­bat­tled so­cial­ist pres­i­dent and call­ing on him to re­spect demo­cratic norms as thou­sands of Venezue­lans tak­ing to the streets de­mand­ing elec­tions and de­cry­ing Maduro.

Op­po­si­tion mem­bers blame Maduro for the coun­try’s ris­ing crime, food short­ages and tripledigit in­fla­tion. At least 46 peo­ple have been killed and hun­dreds in­jured in clashes sur­round­ing the protests.

A spokes­woman for Rus­sia’s For­eign Min­istry said Fri­day the na­tion con­tin­ues to be­lieve di­a­logue is the best way to re­solve the up­heaval, while also urg­ing both the gov­ern­ment and op­po­si­tion to act “in line with the law.”

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