Venezuela admits holding secret talks with US

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro confirmed Tuesday that secret talks have been taking place with the U.S. administration to resolve the longstanding conflict between the two countries.

“There have been talks for months under my authorization between the Trump administration and the Bolivarian government to find a solution to the conflict between us and the North American empire,” he told an event in La Guaria city.

He added that they would maintain contact with the U.S.

On Monday, however, Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello, the number two man in the Venezuelan government, denied allegations that he was in secret talks with members of the U.S. administration.

Maduro also stressed that he will always defend Venezuela’s solidarity and added that his country was ready for negotiations to resolve the conflict.

“But if you attack us, we will respond,” he added.

However, so far, the opposition under Juan Guaido has remained silent, despite the fact that although recognized as interim country leader by, among others, the US, his backers are in secret dealings with his sworn enemy.

Venezuela has been rocked by political unrest since Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term. Tensions escalated on Jan. 23 when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president.

Russia, China and Iran have thrown their weight behind Maduro, as has Turkey.

Spain, Britain, France, Sweden, Germany, Japan and Denmark joined the U.S. and Canada in recognizing Guaido as the country’s interim leader.