Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has met opposition leaders in crisis talks aimed at quelling weeks of protests.
Nicolas Maduro opened the talks by shaking hands with his bitter rival, opposition leader Henrique Capriles.
The rare meeting, broadcast live on television, was brokered by foreign ministers from South American nations.
Venezuela protests erupted over soaring crime rates in February, but have snowballed into wider anti-government rallies. Some 40 people have been killed.
Nicolas Maduro, who says the protests are part of a “fascist” US-backed plot against him, told the meeting that there would be no deal with the opposition.
“There are no negotiations here. No pacts. All we’re looking for is a model of peaceful coexistence, of mutual tolerance,” he said.
The president has said any kind of formal deal with the opposition would make him a “traitor to chavismo”, the socialist platform of his predecessor Hugo Chavez.
Nicolas Maduro called on the opposition to renounce violence.
Henrique Capriles, who was narrowly defeated in last year’s presidential election, insisted that the opposition did not want a coup against the government.
The talks lasted six hours. There will be another round of talks on Tuesday.
Pope Francis sent a letter giving his support to the talks.
“I urge you not to get stuck in the conflict of the moment but open yourselves to one another to become true builders of peace,” Pope Francis said, in a letter read out at the meeting.
Venezuela is sharply divided between supporters and opponents of Nicolas Maduro, who narrowly beat Henrique Capriles to the presidency last year.
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