(Bloomberg) -- US Ambassador to Venezuela James Story is visiting Caracas for the first time since March in an effort to boost political negotiations between the government and the opposition, according to people familiar with the plan.
Story, who arrived on Monday, has separate meetings scheduled with opposition and government representatives this week, according to two people with knowledge of the plans. Resuming political negotiations in Mexico and US sanctions would be among the main topics of discussion, one of the people familiar added.
President Nicolas Maduro said the government’s chief negotiator and National Assembly President Jorge Rodriguez had welcomed “an important delegation from the US government,” during remarks on state TV on Monday evening, without elaborating on the encounter.
A State Department spokesperson said Story came alongside US Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens to discuss the welfare and safety of U.S. nationals in Venezuela. Former executives from oil firm Citgo are currently held in Caracas.
The visit, reportedly earlier by the Associated Press, marks the second time this year a US government official visits Caracas after years of broken relations, which led to the closure of the US embassy in 2019. It also follows a rare visit from US State Department officials in March that led to the easing of some US oil sanctions.
As a result of agreements from March’s visit, Venezuela was allowed to ship oil to Europe this month to offset gas sales from Spanish firm Repsol SA and Italy’s Eni, helping compensate a supply crunch resulting from an embargo on Russian crude. Last week, the US Treasury removed a former Maduro administration official from its SDN list.
The US administration has said further easing of sanctions depends on meaningful political concessions by Maduro in the framework of negotiations in Mexico. Both parties have expressed their willingness to resume these talks, suspended in October of last year, but no date has been set yet.
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