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Lula to discuss Esequibo, election with Venezuela’s Maduro – Reuters

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva addresses the opening of the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union at the African Union Headquarters, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia February 17, 2024.
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva addresses the opening of the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union at the African Union Headquarters, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia February 17, 2024. (Reuters)

Lisandra Paraguassu, Reuters

BRASILIA
EnergiesNet.com 02 29 2024

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva plans a bilateral meeting this week with Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro to discuss Venezuela’s upcoming general election and its border dispute with Guyana.

Brazil has been trying to broker dialogue between its two neighbors since Venezuela revived its claim to Guyana’s oil-rich Esequibo area, having already hosted both parties for meetings.

The Brazilian leader, two sources familiar with the matter said, wants to seek assurance from Maduro that Venezuela will not escalate rhetoric on Esequibo ahead of the presidential vote.

“The goal is to keep things on the back burner and not let the election contaminate the dialogue,” one of the sources said.

Although no clear solution to the dispute is in sight, Venezuela has moderated its tone in recent months, returning to diplomacy after initially threatening the use of force.

Lula remains concerned the election could lead the Maduro administration to escalate again.

The Brazilian president is scheduled to meet Venezuela’s leader on the sidelines of the CELAC summit in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, after also attending the CARICOM summit in Guyana, where he will meet Guyanese President Irfaan Ali.

Lula also expects to address Venezuela’s election during his meeting with Maduro, according to the sources.

The government of Maduro’s ruling socialists last year agreed to release political prisoners, allow international observers and set conditions for a fair presidential election in 2024.

The local Supreme Court in January, however, upheld a ban barring opposition presidential candidate Maria Corina Machado from holding office, raising doubts about whether Maduro would fulfill his pledges.

The Brazilian government’s assessment, the sources said, is that for now there were signs of “concern” but no reason for “alarm” – hence Lula’s intention to talk to Maduro to ensure the agreement is fulfilled.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by David Gregorio

reuters.com 02 27 2024

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