TEHRAN Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro once again urged the country's opposition to engage in dialogue for national reconciliation on Friday.
"I reaffirm my call for a national dialogue for the sake of peace. Next week will bring good news about results of our talks. I keep insisting on setting up a permanent body [to engage] in dialogue for peace," the Venezuelan leader said on Friday during the national Independence Day celebrations, aired by Venezolana de Television.
"I call for peace and national unity," he stated, adding, "No more conspiracies and anger, no more calls for military intervention, for sanctions and embargoes!"
On Independence Day, Venezuela held a military parade in Caracas, overseen by Maduro. He also announced major military exercises planned for July 24.
Venezuela has been going through an acute social-economic crisis in the last several years, accompanied by hyperinflation and currency devaluation. The situation has been further complicated by the escalation of the confrontation between the government and the opposition.
The political situation in Venezuela escalated after Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country's Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country's capital of Caracas in January.
The United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), the Organization of American States and some European countries recognized him as the interim president. Subsequently, Maduro blasted these actions as an attempted coup and stressed he was cutting diplomatic ties with the United States. Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro.
In May, Norway's capital Oslo hosted at least two rounds of indirect talks between the government and the opposition, mediated by the Norwegian government. Guaido noted the positive role of those talks, but noted they had eventually ended up in a deadlock.
In an interview with the France-24 TV channel, Guaido said that he was ready to continue dialogue with the Maduro government to find a political solution to the crisis, but added that protests and diplomatic pressure must continue.
Guaido held a separate event on the day calling on supporters to march toward the nation's counterintelligence directorate (DGCIM), which opposition claims is responsible for the death of Navy Captain Rafael Acosta due to alleged torture.
According to Venezuela's Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez, Maduro ordered a full and exhaustive investigation to clear up this regrettable event.
It is the first major opposition gathering since a failed coup attempt led by Guaido in late April. Following the botched coup, the Maduro administration cracked down on Guaido-aligned lawmakers and suspected military defectors. However, the opposition leader was allowed to walk free.
In the meantime, US National Security Advisor John Bolton, whom US President Donald Trump describes as absolutely a hawk, took to Twitter to congratulate Venezuela on its Independence Day and reiterate his support for Guaido. He was joined by US Vice President Mike Pence and State Secretary Mike Pompeo.
Source: Fars News Agency