U.S. Kerry urged Venezuela’s Maduro to cooperate with opposition

U.S. Kerry urged Venezuela’s Maduro to cooperate with oppositionU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday, the first formal encounter between the two since Kerry became the top U.S. diplomat, Reuters reported.

"(Kerry) spoke of our concern about the economic and political challenges that have affected millions of Venezuelans, and he urged President Maduro to work constructively with opposition leaders to address these challenges," said State Department Spokesman John Kirby.

Kerry and Maduro also agreed to continue bilateral discussions that began in recent months, Kirby said.

Venezuela and the United States have been at loggerheads since the government of late President Hugo Chavez, with frequent exchanges of barbs and expelling each other’s' diplomats. They do not have ambassadors in place following expulsions several years ago.

Maduro says the country is victim of an "economic war" backed by the United States and the Venezuelan political elite.

Venezuela's opposition called on Monday for a nationwide rally on October 12 to push for a referendum to recall Maduro this year as they seek to oust his Socialist Party in an early presidential election.

"Everybody knows we're working toward this recall. It's been delayed. That is problematic. And we need to find a way forward that can provide a consensus that provides relief to a nation under siege," Kerry said before the meeting.
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