Caracas, June 23, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro met with US envoy Thomas Shannon on Wednesday before flying to Havana to attend the signing of an historic peace accord between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
"I have confirmed our interest that, sooner rather than later, we can build an agenda of respect between the U.S. and Venezuela,” Maduro told supporters following a two-hour meeting with the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at Miraflores palace.
The meeting, which was arranged by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez and her US counterpart John Kerry during a meeting last week, marks the highest level contact between the two countries in recent years.
While relations between Washington and Caracas have been strained for years, tensions have flared since US President Barack Obama emitted an executive order last year branding Venezuela a “national security threat” and imposing sanctions, which he renewed this past March.
Maduro, who has accused the US of continued efforts to overthrow his democratically-elected leftist government, praised the meeting as a possible opening to stronger bilateral ties.
"It's never too late … I hope President Obama will rectify the position he has held the last eight years against the revolution," he added.
The high-level meeting comes on the eve of a much-anticipated meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington Thursday that will see the 21 member states debate a motion by General Secretary Luis Almagro to invoke the body’s Democratic Charter against Venezuela, leading to its possible expulsion.
Maduro to Attend Colombia Peace Accords
Following his meeting with Shannon, Maduro traveled to Havana Wednesday evening to attend the signing of an historic peace deal between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) this Thursday.
President Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez have played an instrumental role alongside Cuba in brokering the cease-fire agreement which will put an end to the nearly half-century long armed conflict that has left 260,000 dead, 45,000 disappeared, and 6.8 million displaced.
“Touched down in Havana to participate in the historic event for the peace of our sister Colombia…With peace diplomacy we move forward,” tweeted Maduro, who long served as foreign minister under the late Hugo Chávez before being elected president in 2013.
The accord is the product of over three years of intense negotiations between Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, alias “Timochenko”, who will both attend the signing together with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well as the presidents of Cuba, Venezuela, and Chile.