Wed, 24 Jul 2019

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has arrived in Moscow for talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, amid a spiraling economic crisis in the Latin American country.

The Kremlin said Putin and Maduro will discuss financial help for Caracas when the two leaders meet in the Russian capital on December 5.

They will also discuss cooperation on oil and gas development, Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov told reporters.

Ushakov said Moscow will also express its support for a peaceful dialogue in Venezuela, adding that Venezuela's 'internal political problems must be settled through an open dialogue between political forces.'

Oil-rich Venezuela has been confronted with a serious economic and political crisis since 2010 under leftist leader Hugo Chavez and has continued into Maduro's presidency.

Russia came to Venezuela's rescue last year with a debt restructuring deal after it was driven to the verge of default by falling oil prices and tough sanctions imposed by the United States to counter what Washington sees as Maduro's increasingly autocratic grip on his nation.

Early on December 4, Maduro announced in a video message posted on Twitter that he was flying to Russia to hold 'serious' talks with Putin.

The Venezuelan president, whose last visit to Russia was in October 2017, said he expects the meeting to 'strengthen and expand diplomatic relations and friendly ties' between his country and Russia.

Three million Venezuelans have fled the crisis in their country, most since 2015, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The exodus, driven by violence, hyperinflation, and major shortages of food, led to the UN announcing emergency funding last week for health and nutrition projects inside Venezuela.

Maduro has blamed the country's problems on U.S. financial sanctions and an 'economic war' led by political adversaries.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, Interfax, and TASS RFE/RL

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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