FILE - In this file photo dated Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gives a press conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. More than a week into a political standoff, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday Jan. 30, 2019, that he is willing to negotiate with opposition leader Juan Guaido. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, FILE)

Venezuela's Maduro 'willing to sit down' with opposition

January 30, 2019 - 1:27 pm

MOSCOW (AP) — More than a week into a standoff with the opposition, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday he was willing to negotiate.

Violent street demonstrations erupted last week after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared during a major opposition rally in Caracas that he had assumed presidential powers under the constitution and planned to call fresh elections to end Maduro's "dictatorship."

Maduro had rejected negotiations, but said in an interview with Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency that he was open to talks with the opposition.

"I'm willing to sit down for talks with the opposition so that we could talk for the sake of Venezuela's peace and its future," he said.

Maduro said other countries could mediate, mentioning Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, the Vatican and Russia as possible candidates.

Maduro also accused U.S. President Donald Trump of ordering a hit on him from Colombia. He said he was aware of Trump's alleged "orders" for the Colombian government and the local mafia to kill him.

Russia has been one of Maduro's staunchest supporters, providing the South American country with loans and weapons.

A top Russian official said Tuesday that Moscow expects "problems" ahead of an upcoming payment on Russia's $3 billion loan.

Maduro refused to comment on reports last week that Kremlin-linked private military contractors were dispatched to boost his security detail, saying he "cannot say anything about it."

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