Representatives of the government of elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and those of the opposition supporting self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido are meeting on neutral ground in Oslo, Norway to hold secret "exploratory discussions", according to local broadcaster NRK and several other media outlets.
Maduro is being represented by Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez and a loyal state governor at the talks. Earlier, the Venezuelan president confirmed that Rodriguez had been sent on a "very important" mission, but didn't specify what it was. Venezuela's UN envoy has confirmed that the country is holding talks with "the democratic sectors of the opposition".
Guaido is represented by opposition lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez and two political advisers. The Venezuelan top opposition figure has confirmed sending "some envoys" to Norway in a bid to "mediate" a resolution to the political crisis.
Oslo has refused to comment on the reported secret talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition. Notably, Norway previously offered to act as a mediator in talks between the two sides in the political conflict. Although Oslo has expressed support for the Venezuelan opposition, it still hasn't recognised Guaido's claims to the presidency.
A severe political crisis erupted in Venezuela after opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself an interim president and announced a goal to oust democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro. His claims were widely supported by Western states, but rejected by others, including Russia, China, and Turkey, which have supported Maduro.
The crisis was accompanied by the US introducing several rounds of sanctions against the country and mulling a "military option" to resolve the crisis. The latter notion was also considered by Guaido, who requested consultations with the US Southern Command.
Maduro has slammed Guaido as a "US-puppet" helping Washington to overthrow him. At the end of April, Guaido attempted to conduct a coup and called on country's army to support him. The military instead pledged loyalty to Maduro and the coup failed.