Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela: Vatican-backed talks are 'last chance' for peace

Students demonstrate against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the streets of Caracas, 3 November 2016 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Nicolas Maduro faces calls to step down amid Venezuela's worsening economic crisis

Talks between Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition are the "last best effort" to finding a peaceful solution to the country's political impasse, a US official says.

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon said if the talks failed, it could lead to both sides "putting people on the streets".

He said such a result would be very dangerous.

It comes after President Maduro rejected calls for an early election.

"From our point of view [the dialogue] really is the last best effort to try to find a negotiated, peaceful solution to this," said Mr Shannon.

He added that it would "unpredictable and can be very dangerous" if Venezuela found itself in a state where either side had to "measure themselves through their ability to put people on to the streets".

Mr Shannon's comments come at the end of a week that saw the progress which had been made at the talks, mediated by a Vatican envoy and former international leaders from Spain, the Dominican Republic and Panama, slowly fall apart.


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Mr Maduro remains at loggerheads with the opposition, which dominates the National Assembly after a landslide victory in last year's elections.

He faces calls to step down amid a worsening economic crisis in the country.

Last month, hundreds of thousands of people protested in the capital Caracas after opposition calls for a referendum on Mr Maduro's leadership were rejected.

Mr Maduro was elected in 2013 to replace his late mentor Hugo Chavez, but has seen his popularity plummet to just over 20% amid an unprecedented economic crisis.

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