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Venezuela frees at least one American after talks with US: Sources

Venezuela frees at least one American after talks with US: Sources

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gives a remote speech at the opening of a session of the UN Human Rights Council on Feb 28, 2022 in Geneva. (Photo: AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

WASHINGTON: Venezuela released at least one jailed US citizen on Tuesday (Mar 8), three people familiar with the matter said, in an apparent goodwill gesture toward the Biden administration following a visit to Caracas by a high-level US delegation.

The weekend meetings focused not only on the fate of Americans held in Venezuela but on possibly easing US oil sanctions on the OPEC member, a close Russian ally, to fill the supply gap once President Joe Biden banned Russian oil imports in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The White House said Monday that the weekend talks with the US delegation in Venezuela with the government of President Nicolas Maduro included a discussion of energy supplies, as Washington looks for ways to reduce its imports of Russian oil.

Maduro, with whose regime the United States broke off relations in 2019, has been among the few international figures to assure Russian President Vladimir Putin of his "strong support" in the wake of the invasion.

Maduro confirmed the meeting in a televised appearance late Monday, describing it as "respectful, cordial and diplomatic" without going into detail about the issues addressed.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the delegation also raised the "health and welfare" of a number of Americans detained in the country - who include six oil executives jailed in 2017 - but stressed that energy talks and the detainees' fate were "separate paths and conversations."

Source: Agencies/ic
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