Venezuela’s government and opposition are getting ready to resume political talks after more than a year.
The talks will resume on November 26 in Mexico, Norway’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.
Norway, which is mediating the talks, said the parties would sign a “partial agreement” on social issues.
This could pave the way for easing U.S. oil sanctions on the OPEC nation, according to five people close to the matter on Wednesday. The United States is preparing an extended license for Chevron Corp’s oil operations in Venezuela if the meeting between the Venezuelan government and opposition takes place, three of the sources said.
Chevron could win U.S. approval to vastly expand operations in Venezuela as soon as Saturday once the political talks resume, which would help rebuild sagging oil production in the Latin American nation.
Maduro has stated on several occasions that in order to return to negotiations with the opposition, all sanctions would have to be lifted, among other conditions. The opposition has demanded guarantees for presidential elections, scheduled for late 2023 or 2024, although the government has not ruled out bringing them forward.
In recent weeks, Maduro representatives and the opposition held discussions in Paris under the auspices of the presidents of France, Colombia and Argentina.
Talks were abandoned in October 2021 after the United States extradited a Maduro ally. At the time, delegations representing Maduro and the opposition led by Juan Guaido made no progress on resolving the nation’s political crisis, which has prompted over 7 million Venezuelans to leave the country in the last decade.
Guaido has been the public face of the Unitary Platform opposition alliance since the United States and other governments rejected Maduro’s 2018 re-election as a sham.
But opposition parties have warned they are likely to withdraw backing for his Washington-endorsed interim government in primary elections in 2023 to choose a single candidate for the presidency.
This weekend’s talks will cover presidential elections, the status of hundreds of political prisoners and U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, according to the sources.
Also on the table will be discussions about the possibility of an over $3 billion fund to provide humanitarian aid to Venezuela, administered by the United Nations.
“Norway has been committed over time to assisting the parties in Venezuela to find an inclusive solution to the conflict in the country,” a Norwegian foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
A U.S. Department of State spokesperson said “we support the Unitary Platform’s efforts around negotiations that lead to a democratic solution. The United States is not a party to negotiations between the Unitary Platform and the Maduro regime, so we defer to the UP on anything further.”
The plan to revive the stalled political dialogue comes as the number of Venezuelans trying to reach the United States has soared amid a deep economic and political crisis.
It also comes as Washington has said it needs time to wind down Title 42, a COVID-era order that allows authorities to rapidly send migrants at the U.S. southern border back to Mexico.