Daily Tribune (Philippines)

U.S. mulls reimportin­g Venezuela oil to replace Russian supply

Maduro confirmed the meeting in a televised appearance

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WASHINGTON (AFP) — The White House said Monday that a United States (US) delegation held weekend talks in Venezuela with the government of President Nicolas Maduro that included a discussion of energy supplies.

“As it relates to Venezuela, the purpose of the trip that was taken by administra­tion officials was to discuss a range of issues including certainly energy, energy security,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

According to The New York Times, the visit by senior State Department and White House officials was linked to Washington’s alleged interest in replacing part of the oil it currently buys from Russia with the oil it stopped buying from Venezuela.

The White House has indicated it is examining how to reduce Russian oil imports without harming US consumers and while maintainin­g global supply — although Psaki said Monday no decision had been made on a possible ban on Russian oil.

Maduro confirmed the meeting in a televised appearance late Monday, describing it as “respectful, cordial and diplomatic” without going into detail about the issues addressed.

“We did it in the presidenti­al office,” he said. “We had almost two hours talking.”

“It seemed very important to me to be able, face to face, to discuss topics of maximum interest to Venezuela,” he continued.

Maduro, with whose regime the US broke off relations in 2019, has been among the few internatio­nal figures to assure Russian President Vladimir Putin of his “strong support” in the wake of the invasion.

Venezuelan oil

The US has imposed a battery of sanctions on Caracas in a bid to force Maduro from power, with one 2019 measure preventing Venezuela from trading its crude oil — which accounted for 96 percent of the country’s revenues — on the US market.

Since breaking off diplomatic relations with Caracas, Washington has refused to deal with the Maduro government, instead treating opposition leader Juan Guaido as the South American country’s legitimate president.

Psaki said the delegation also raised the “health and welfare” of a number of Americans detained in the country — who include six oil executives jailed in 2017 — but stressed that energy talks and the detainees’ fate were “separate paths and conversati­ons.”

Guaido’s office said that the opposition held a “sustained meeting” with the US delegation.

The US is one of almost 60 countries to have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s acting president, having rejected Maduro’s 2018 reelection in a poll widely viewed as fraudulent.

Washington signaled last month it would be willing to review its sanctions policy toward Venezuela if talks between Maduro’s government and the opposition — launched in August but suspended since October — moved forward.

 ?? SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ?? ONE Ukrainian refugee holds her pet cat as she, and others, arrive by bus at the Greece-Bulgarian border at the Promachona­s custom, Northern Greece. Over 1.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine in the week since the invasion by Russian on 24 February with over half going to Poland, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ONE Ukrainian refugee holds her pet cat as she, and others, arrive by bus at the Greece-Bulgarian border at the Promachona­s custom, Northern Greece. Over 1.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine in the week since the invasion by Russian on 24 February with over half going to Poland, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

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