The ongoing tense talks between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government and the opposition are the last and the best effort in finding a peaceful resolution to help overcome the years-long political crisis that has crippled the country, a US official said on Friday (4 November).
US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon said Washington would support the Vatican-convened talks "as long as it remains viable". He led the talks on behalf of the US, which is being accused by the socialists of trying to topple Maduro's government.
He also warned that failure in the talks could lead to both sides putting "people on to the streets". Such a result would be very risky for the nation that is going through political and economic turmoil.
"From our point of view (the dialogue) really is the last best effort to try to find a negotiated, peaceful solution to this," Reuters cited Shannon as saying. "Absent this dialogue process, Venezuela will find itself in a state in which both the government and the opposition will have to measure themselves through their ability to put people on to the streets."
He was in Caracas on 31 October. "It is a fragile but very important process, and it's a good faith effort to find a peaceful way out of the political impasse that has crippled Venezuela," Shannon added, while describing the negotiations as "the only game in town."
Maduro's opponents had given him time until Friday (4 November) to decide on the election date and make concrete concessions. However, Maduro is reported to have rejected the opposition's calls saying: "There can be no ultimatums. Nobody can issue an ultimatum. Everything in its time."
He added: "I want to alert you all, especially the opposition's supporters: 'They are lying to you again'," BBC quoted him as saying.
A coalition of Maduro's opposition is expected to hold talks with the socialist government on 11 November with a goal to set dates for an early election next year, well before the end of Maduro's term.
Besides, the main opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), is also reportedly divided over the talks as 16 out of 30 parties are thought to have refused to participate.
Venezuela's opposition has long been demanding that Maduro quit, and have called for a new plebiscite after authorities recalled a referendum. In addition, they are also demanding the release of political prisoners.