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Nicolas Maduro meets European Union's special envoy ahead of opposition talks

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro with the European Union's representative to the OPEC nation Enrique Iglesias. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Caracas, Venezuela Jul 10, 2019, 05.03 PM (IST)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro met with the European Union's representative to the OPEC nation Enrique Iglesias on Tuesday (July 09) as part of an intensification of diplomatic efforts to seek new elections in the divided nation.

The EU, which leads an international crisis group with South American nations, hopes Iglesias can help find a way to convince Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to allow all political groups in the country to contest a free and fair vote.

The meeting comes after a UN report that accused Maduro's government of pursuing a strategy aimed at "neutralising, repressing and criminalising political opponents and people critical of the government".

President Nicolas Maduro has called for continued Norway-backed talks with the opposition to resolve differences. Guaido has been hesitant to resume talks, lambasting the Venezuelan leader as a "dictator".

Iglesias, a former Uruguayan foreign minister and a former president of the Inter-American Development Bank, is seen by diplomats as having the contacts and know-how to talk to both Maduro and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, as well as other political groups.

Having met Maduro and Guaido this month, the EU's crisis group that includes Britain, France and Germany also hopes to convince the United States to back a peaceful diplomatic process out of the crisis.

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The meeting comes after a UN report that accused Maduro's government of pursuing a strategy aimed at 'neutralising, repressing and criminalising political opponents and people critical of the government'.