US seeks contact with Maduro

Washington is trying to isolate Russia. It has now led to the highest visit by US officials to Venezuela in years.

The war in Ukraine has triggered notable diplomatic action across the Atlantic. Seemingly in an effort to isolate Russia from the world, the United States is now seeking talks with Venezuela, whose socialist President Nicolás Maduro is seen as a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Senior officials from the US government and the South American country held a series of talks in the capital Caracas on Saturday but failed to reach an agreement, a person familiar with the matter said.

It remained open if there would be other meetings.

The focus of the talks was whether the government in Caracas would be willing to distance itself from Russia and its invasion of Ukraine. However, some analysts also see the oil-rich country, which is under US sanctions, as a possible supplier if the United States tries to cut energy supplies from Russia. It was the highest visit by US officials to Venezuela in years. The two countries severed diplomatic relations in 2019.

The United States and dozens of other states like Austria did not recognize Maduro’s re-election in 2018. With support from Russia, Cuba, China and Iran, Maduro went so far as to now able to stay in power.

Conversely, Putin has so far been able to count on Venezuela. On March 1, for example, the two men spoke on the phone and, according to the Kremlin, agreed on a “deeper partnership”.

When the United Nations General Assembly recently passed a resolution condemning the Russian invasion, the name Venezuela was missing from the four states that voted against and sided with Russia. But Venezuela’s absence from the club of Russia’s closest friends had other reasons: Venezuela is in arrears with the UN. This is why the Latin American country’s voting rights were withdrawn some time ago.

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