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Ahead of election, Venezuela’s Maduro says he has ‘agreed’ to resume negotiations with United States

CARACAS, Venezuela (news agencies) — Venezuela’s government plans to resume negotiations with the U.S. government this week, President Nicolas Maduro announced Monday, less than a month before a highly anticipated presidential election in which he is seeking a third term.

Maduro, during his weekly TV show, characterized the dialogue as “urgent.” He said he “agreed” to restart it Wednesday. It was not immediately clear whether the U.S. government has agreed to it, too.

“I have received the proposal during two continuous months from the United States government to reestablish talks and direct dialogue,” Maduro said.

The July 28 election is shaping up to be the biggest challenge the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela has faced in its 25-year dominance that began with the presidency of the fiery Hugo Chávez. The party seeks to control all branches of government for six more years, but its base is divided, diminished and disappointed.

Ten candidates, including Maduro, will be on the ballot. The only contender with a real chance of defeating the president is Edmundo González Urrutia, who represents the opposition’s Unitary Platform coalition.

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