By Senabri Silvestre
SANTO DOMINGO, Dom. Rep. (AA) – Washington and Caracas have agreed to start a "new stage of dialogue" to normalize diplomatic relations between the two respective countries, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said.
The announcement followed a meeting between Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the annual General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the Dominican Republic Tuesday.
“I agree in to initiate the contact at the highest level and I propose to the U.S Secretary of State to appoint ambassadors," Maduro said during a ceremony that was broadcast on radio and television. The two countries have not had ambassador-level relations since 2010.
The meeting was developed in an atmosphere of respect and cordiality, according to the website of Venezuela’s foreign ministry.
The diplomats stressed the importance of talks as the only way toward understanding the real situation in Venezuela.
Kerry and Rodriguez met after verbally clashing about the political situation in Venezuela.
Kerry urged Venezuela to proceed with a “timely” recall referendum against Maduro.
Although the topic was not on the official meeting agenda, Kerry demanded Venezuela release all political prisoners, respect freedom of expression and address the shortages of medicine and food in the South American nation.
Rodriguez responded sharply to the demand. “I feel that the master of the world has spoken, who also has the audacity to comment on other countries,” Rodriguez told Kerry, reminding him that her country is a free and sovereign nation that has managed to defeat imperial powers.
She also called for the release of political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera who is serving a 75-year prison sentence for “seditious conspiracy” related to his activities as a Puerto Rican nationalist.
Kerry voiced support for the activation of the OAS´ Democratic Charter against the Venezuelan government that will see the organization assess the political situation there at a June 23 meeting. The meeting was called at the request of Luis Almagro, the head of the Washington-based regional bloc.
Venezuela risks suspension from the organization if two-thirds of the 34-member countries vote in favor of the motion.
Several member states have criticized Almagro´s decision and Nicaragua's ambassador Denis Ronaldo Moncada Colindres and some social organizations have asked Almagro to submit his resignation because of his interventionist practices against Venezuela.
The OAS meeting ends June 15.