Jul 02, 2021
Juan González, special assistant to President Joe Biden and Director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council, told McClatchy that opposition leaders left in a united front with the Biden administration ahead of their first round of negotiations, organized by Norway.
At the outset, the preliminary strategy appears to be about designing a structure for the talks that could trigger concessions from each side. Biden administration officials say that a diplomatic architecture has to be in place before they begin to talk about U.S. sanctions relief for Venezuela.
“That’s what our policy is,” Gonzalez said. “U.S. policy is going to respond to concrete steps that show the seriousness of that direction.”
Gonzalez and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman took part in a series of meetings with opposition figures last week.
During the Obama administration, Sherman led U.S. negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program – a highly structured series of negotiations that lasted over two years, featuring several distinct phases and deadlines.
But talks between Maduro and former National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, the U.S.-backed leader of the opposition, face a unique set of challenges.
The clock is ticking for Guaidó, whose term as interim president comes to a close at the end of the year.
The talks with Maduro are a highly unpopular proposal in Venezuela, as the regime has traditionally used diplomacy to gain time and dispel growing opposition.
Read More: Miami Herald – Guaidó, U.S. have aligned diplomatic strategy as opposition enters talks with Maduro