Russia tells U.S. it is ready for bilateral talks on Venezuela – Reuters

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a joint news conference with Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is ready to take part in bilateral talks with the United States over the issue of Venezuela, Russia’s foreign minister told his U.S. counterpart late on Saturday.

The situation in Venezuela was the main topic in a phone call between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that took place on March 2, Russia’s foreign ministry said on its website.

“In connection with Washington’s proposal to hold bilateral consultations on the Venezuelan topic, it was stated that Russia is ready to participate in this,” the ministry said in a statement.

It was “vital to be strictly guided by the principles of the UN Charter since only the Venezuelan people have the right to determine their future,” the statement said.

Russia and the United States have been at loggerheads over a U.S.-led campaign for international recognition of Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader who declared himself the interim head of state, over President Nicholas Maduro.

In the phone call, initiated by the United States, Lavrov condemned the threats that Washington made towards “the country’s lawful leadership,” the ministry said, referring to Maduro.

Earlier this month, the United States imposed new sanctions on six Venezuelan security officials and revoked the visas of dozens of associates and their families with ties to Maduro, in the latest move to pile pressure on him to step down.

Lavrov and Pompeo also agreed to continues talks on the expert level regarding Syria, Afghanistan and the Korean peninsula.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; editing by Jason Neely

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