Venezuela 'willing' to restore diplomatic ties with US

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (R) talks with US State Department envoy Thomas Shannon at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, on June 22, 2016 (AFP Photo/Federico Parra)

Caracas (AFP) - Crisis-hit Venezuela is willing to restore diplomatic relations with the United States after a six-year freeze, the socialist government said Monday.

The foreign ministry's announcement came two weeks after top US diplomat Thomas Shannon met with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in a bid to help tackle the country's economic and political crisis.

In a message congratulating the United States on its Independence Day commemoration, the ministry expressed its "willingness to establish respectful bilateral diplomatic relations."

The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010 due to tensions between Washington and the government of Hugo Chavez, Maduro's mentor and late predecessor.

Like Chavez before him, Maduro has frequently accused Washington of interfering in Venezuela's internal affairs and seeking his overthrow.

The United States has expressed concern over the crisis in Venezuela, saying Maduro's opponents have a right to organize a referendum on removing him from power, which they hope to do this year.

Future diplomatic relations should be guided by international law and "principles such as sovereign equality of states and the people's right to self-determination," the ministry's statement said.