Andreina Itriago Acosta, Bloomberg News
EnergiesNet.com 09 11 2022
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro shook hands and exchanged words with US climate envoy John Kerry in a brief encounter at the COP27 summit in Cairo on Tuesday, drawing what appeared to be a “shame on you” gesture from the former US secretary of state.
Maduro approached Kerry and the two spoke briefly through a translator, a short video released by Venezuela’s state television network showed. Kerry appeared to wag his finger and then gestured “shame on you” at Maduro.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Maduro interrupted a meeting and caught Kerry by surprise. He said Maduro has “overseen a period of significant environmental degradation.”
“This was not planned or substantive in any way,” Price told a briefing Tuesday. “I understand that Nicolas Maduro has done this to a number of world leaders.”
Although it was not a planned meeting, it is the first time Maduro, whom the US does not recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate president, had a public encounter with a top US official. In 2019 the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim leader, severing ties with Maduro’s government.
Kerry doesn’t have a security detail or the sort of tightly choreographed schedule that would head off such encounters, which American adversaries have sometimes sought to exploit for political points back home.
Maduro has pressed for the US to ease a crippling sanctions regime on his country’s oil sector, and people familiar with the matter said last week the government and opposition parties are poised to restart political negotiations after Tuesday’s midterm elections in the US. Progress in those talks could lead the US to start easing some sanctions.
Maduro met with Biden administration officials in Caracas at least twice this year amid signs of a possible detente between the two countries. Kerry spokeswoman Whitney Smith declined to comment.
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Maduro also had a brief chat with France President Emmanuel Macron on Monday at the event.
–With assistance from Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Iain Marlow.
bloomberg.com 11 08 2022