USA suspends all commercial flights to Venezuela, citing unrest

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Calling Maduro a dictator, U.S. President Donald Trump has tightened sanctions against his government and spearheaded worldwide recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who in January invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency.

Guaido confirmed efforts in Norway to mediate between the opposition and Maduro's government on Thursday in remarks, but said the opposition won't enter into any "false negotiation".

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro earlier slammed USA attempts to seize the property of the country's embassy, pointing to its "inviolability" under worldwide treaties regulating the activities of diplomatic missions.

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since January, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

It was unclear whether representatives of both sides would meet directly, or whether Norwegian officials would serve as intermediaries to explore possible resolutions for the crisis in Venezuela. Maduro says he is open to dialogue and the opposition had been trying to seize power by force.

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The first Venezuelan politician to denounce Nicolas Maduro and switch his allegiance to Juan Guaido has said the government is presiding over a "genocide", adding that 14 other politicians are ready to follow his lead.

The opposition said Venezuela's dire economic situation is the result of years of corruption and mismanagement.

"Yes, there are talks between the Bolivarian government and the democratic sectors of the opposition", Venezuela's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Jorge Valero, told reporters, denouncing USA interference.

United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric was asked Thursday at United Nations headquarters in NY about possible United Nations participation in the process.

Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland talked about the issue on Thursday during the latter's half-day trip to Havana, after the island country recently said it was willing to help mediate.

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The International Contact Group consists of eight European countries, the European Union and four Latin American countries. "We strongly encourage the parties to find a political and peaceful solution in order to avoid further escalation", a ministry spokeswoman said.

Reuters and the Associated Press quoted anonymous officials and the opposition as saying that representatives have already traveled to Norway for the talks.

Guaido had previously rejected talks with the government, while USA officials have also ruled out any dialogue that does not begin with Maduro stepping down.

Norway, home of the Nobel Peace Prize and the now-defunct Israeli-Palestinian Oslo accords, has a long tradition of playing the role of "facilitator" in peace processes around the world, including that in Colombia between the government and the FARC rebels in 2016.

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