Venezuela govt seeks to change framework for talks with opposition

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza is a key member of the Maduro government's negotiating team (AFP Photo/Federico Parra)

Caracas (AFP) - Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Thursday the government would meet with Norwegian mediators in an effort to restart talks with the opposition aimed at resolving the country's political crisis.

Arreaza told reporters in Caracas that the government was seeking changes to the talks mechanism before it would return to the negotiating table.

"There will be contact with the envoys and we will surely be able to reestablish the dialogue with a re-thought mechanism," the foreign minister said.

"We have to have a mechanism that guarantees peace and coexistence," he added, but gave no details of the changes the government were seeking.

On Wednesday, opposition leader Juan Guaido revealed that Norwegian officials were in the country in a bid to restart the talks.

Negotiations to end the political crisis -- sparked when Guaido pronounced himself acting president in January -- began in Oslo in May.

But President Nicolas Maduro called off the talks a week ago in response to new United States sanctions against his government.

Arreaza insisted that Maduro had merely "implemented a pause" in the talks and that they had not broken down.

"We have not withdrawn from the process of dialogue with the political opposition," said the minister, a key member of Maduro's negotiating team.

Maduro's administration says the opposition is divided between those who want a peaceful change of government and those who want a foreign military intervention.

Talks began in Oslo in May before being moved to Barbados where several rounds have been held since the start of July.

In addition to the political standoff, Venezuela is suffering one of the worst economic crises in its history with a quarter of its 30 million population in need of aid, according to the United Nations.