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US, Venezuela hold talks in Haiti

Updated: 2015-06-16 07:45
By Agencies in Caracas, Venezuela (China Daily)

A US envoy met Venezuela's second-most powerful official in Haiti in another sign of rapprochement between the two countries, according to Venezuelan state media.

Thomas Shannon, counselor to Secretary of State John Kerry, has emerged in recent months as a go-between for Caracas and Washington, visiting Venezuela a couple of times for low-profile meetings with President Nicolas Maduro.

In the worst flare-up since Maduro came to power, Venezuela accused Washington earlier this year of plotting a coup, ordered it to reduce its embassy staff and imposed a visa requirement on US visitors.

In turn, the United States declared Venezuela a national security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials it accused of corruption and rights abuses.

But both sides have toned down their rhetoric in recent weeks. At the meeting on Saturday in Haiti, Shannon met National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, widely regarded as No 2 in Venezuela behind Maduro, and Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez.

Late on Saturday, Rodriguez announced via Twitter: "We held a work meeting in Haiti with Tom Shannon and the US delegation on the road to normalize relations. ... We thank the president of Haiti for being a generous host."

The meeting lasted an hour and a half, according to the state news agency AVN, and was mediated by Haitian President Michel Martelly.

"We held a working meeting in Haiti with Tom Shannon and the US delegation en route to normalizing relations," Rodriguez tweeted.

State-funded network Tele-sur quoted Cabello as saying that Venezuela and the United States both planned to cooperate with Haiti in fighting cholera.

Venezuela wants better relations with the United States, but unnamed "interests" are blocking that, Rodriguez said.

"They have tried to attack and bomb this initiative in order to keep us from normalizing relations between the two countries," Telesur quoted him as saying.

According a US State Department staff member who asked not to be named, "The US and Venezuelan delegations took advantage of this opportunity to continue our bilateral talks."

Reuters - Xinhua

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