Venezuela’s government and opposition will resume political talks after more than a year on Nov. 26 in Mexico, Norway’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.
Norway, which is facilitating the talks, announced on Twitter the parties would sign a “partial agreement on social matters.”
The talks could help pave the way for slackening U.S. oil sanctions on the OPEC nation, helping to ease its long-running political and economic crises and opening the door for Washington to clear expanded operations by Chevron Corp in the country.
Previous talks were suspended in October 2021 by the government of President Nicolas Maduro, upset by the U.S. extradition of a businessman with ties to his administration.
The talks in host country Mexico are expected to include a “social plan” to provide humanitarian aid of some $3 billion in U.N.-administered funds, as well as U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, presidential elections and the status of hundreds of political prisoners.
“We are convinced that this social agreement will open the doors to advance the extensive agenda of national dialogue, in the fulfillment of all its objectives for the good of our country,” Jorge Rodriguez, president of the ruling party-dominated National Assembly, said in a written statement shortly after the announcement.
U.S. Department of State official Brian Nichols welcomed the return to dialogue among the parties.
“We hope they will work toward alleviating the humanitarian challenges facing Venezuelans, and free and fair elections,” he said on Twitter.
Renewed political dialogue in Venezuela has been repeatedly delayed due to disagreements over the terms, especially related to elections, as well as the origin of the funds for the social plan, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador commented on the news during his regular news conference on Thursday, saying he is grateful both sides trust Mexico to hold the talks.
“The idea is that we do not act in a leading role. What we want is that there is understanding so that we can move forward and achieve peace, tranquility and that there are agreements between the parties,” he said.
The United States is preparing an extended license for oil company Chevron’s operations in Venezuela if the meeting between the Venezuelan government and the opposition takes place, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter.
Chevron is expected to get approval from Washington as early as Saturday to expand its operations in Venezuela. The approval would allow it to produce and export crude oil, the source added.