After talks in Mexico, the US won’t ease relevant sanctions on Venezuela

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U.S. officials have made clear that allowing oil major Chevron to expand in Venezuela depends on a grand gesture: the Venezuelan government and opposition returning to election talks in Mexico at least for a first round, three people close to the matter said this week.

Under a technical service agreement signed with Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA this summer, Chevron asked the U.S. Treasury Department to relax sanctions on Venezuela, allowing the company to take operational control and have a greater say in procurement and trading at the four oil ventures it shares with PDVSA.

But the State Department has insisted that any relevant easing of sanctions will only come if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro returns to talks and takes concrete steps toward free elections.

Chevron’s request has become entangled with the U.S. State Department’s wider political discussions, and rising Congressional opposition ahead of November U.S. elections to any move that can benefit Maduro, whose 2018 reelection was not recognized by Washington.

On Tuesday, U.S. Department of State official Brian Nichols, White House senior policy advisor Juan Gonzalez and Ambassador for Venezuelan Affairs James Story met in Washington with Geraldo Blyde and at least five other representatives of the Venezuelan opposition, the people said.

The group discussed the need to keep pushing for talks in Mexico and the possibility of using Venezuelan government money frozen in international bank accounts, particularly in Europe, for humanitarian aid, the people said.

Nichols, other U.S. officials, and members of Venezuela’s Unitary Platform opposition group held talks over “progress on a return to negotiations with the Maduro regime in Mexico City and the ongoing humanitarian, political, and economic crisis in Venezuela,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Chevron did not have a comment.

President Joe Biden’s administration this year has begun considering Chevron’s request with more urgency as Washington looks for oil to replace supplies hit by sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine as well as the OPEC+ decision to cut output, a person in Washington familiar with the matter said.

But no final decision has been made, the person added.

Experts within the Venezuelan opposition raised a new hurdle to Chevron’s proposal, saying it could violate Venezuelan law that bars private control of any oil joint venture. In a letter to U.S. State Department officials this month, opposition leader Juan Guaido asked for details of Chevron’s request.

Experts within the Venezuelan opposition raised a new hurdle to Chevron’s proposal, saying it could violate Venezuelan law that bars private control of any oil joint venture. In a letter to U.S. State Department officials this month, opposition leader Juan Guaido asked for details of Chevron’s request.

Source: Euro News

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