January 30, 2019 - 7:27 AM EST
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Maduro willing to talk to opposition, but rejects calls for new vote

Jan. 30 (UPI) --

Beset Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday he's ready to talk with the opposition to end rising violence, but allowed authorities to freeze the assets of rival Juan Guaido.

Venezuela's National Assembly this month declared the presidency's void on grounds that Maduro's 2018 re-election was not legal. Since, Guaido, the National Assembly president and opposition leader, declared himself national president and countries around the world started to pick sides.

The country has spiraled into violent protests, political marches and unrest during the dispute.

I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition so that we could talk about what benefits Venezuela, Maduro said Wednesday. He said he has sent letters to Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, Russia, the Vatican and other European countries to take part in the process.

Russia, which has sided with Maduro opposite of the United States, praised the embattled president for his willingness to talk.

Without a doubt, President Maduro's openness to dialogue is highly commendable, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow, state-run news agency TASS reported. According to information I have, no specific proposals (for talks) have been made so far.

Despite Maduro's openness to talk with the opposition, the country's Supreme Court approved freezing Guaido's assets pending an investigation.

We request these preventive measures against Guaidó while we compile elements to stop the events that since Jan. 22 have broken the peace of the republic, prosecutor Tarek Saab said in a news conference.

In the meantime, the United States, which recognizes Guaido as Venezuela's leader, has announced sweeping sanctions against Caracas' state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela. Oil is a vital source of the country's income.

Maduro has called the U.S. efforts part of a coup and that Guaido was nothing more than a puppet for the Trump administration. The U.S., Britain, Spain, Germany and France have all threatened to recognize Guaido as president if Maduro doesn't hold new elections within eight days.

Maduro has so far rejected any suggestion of new elections.

Source: United Press International (January 30, 2019 - 7:27 AM EST)

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