Newsweek reported on Tuesday that Venezuela may seek to discuss sanctions relief and a prisoner exchange with the United States during the multinational summit in Columbia on Venezuela’s ongoing political crisis.
The summit, which began on Tuesday in Bogota, brought together government officials from 19 countries and the European Union to kickstart the negotiations between Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and the country’s opposition that stalled after the Mexico talks held last year.
A Venezuelan official told Newsweek that the Maduro government hopes that the countries participating in the summit commit to engaging in “positive dialogue” and a willingness to lift sanctions while finding ways to “move forward” to “achieve progress.”
However, Reuters reported that the summit failed to produce results on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s summit was hosted by Columbia’s President Gustavo Petro with support from the US. Over the weekend, Petro met with representatives from Venezuela’s opposition, the Unitary Platform alliance.
Neither the Venezuelan government nor the opposition directly participated in the summit.
Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer told reporters that the Biden administration doesn’t want to maintain sanctions against Venezuela in perpetuity. He reiterated that sanctions would be lifted if the Maduro government takes “concrete steps” toward holding elections.
The opposition has argued that the ruling party’s control of the election authority is hampering free and transparent elections.
Venezuela’s former opposition leader Juan Guaido made a surprise visit to Columbia on Monday hoping to meet with the participants of the summit.
According to Reuters, Guaido’s visit prompted criticism from Colombian Foreign Minister Alvar Leyva who blasted the former opposition leader for entering the country inappropriately. Leyva said Guaido was escorted to the airport by officials from Columbia’s migration agency and was met by US officials who ensured he boarded a plane for Miami.