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An offer from the Vatican to send an envoy to act as mediator in the political crisis in Venezuela has been welcomed by both President Nicolas Maduro and the main opposition parties.
Last week Mr Maduro accepted that an outside facilitator was needed, suggesting the Vatican’s secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was formerly nuncio in Caracas.
The Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, told the AP news agency that the Holy See and Cardinal Parolin were “willing and desirous to do whatever is possible for the good and serenity of the country”. He added that the Vatican was now studying the expectations for its intervention and whether it could bring about a positive outcome.
At the weekend Cardinal Jorge Urosa said that the president had failed to contact the nuncio in Venezuela, which he would need to do if a Vatican mediator is to be involved.
Opposition groups have so far refused to attend peace talks, accusing Mr Maduro of not acting in good faith.
Huge anti-government protests have continued since the middle of February, with anger over high levels of crime, inflation and food shortages. A hard core of protesters have said they will not stop until they have achieved the resignation of Mr Maduro, who came to power following the death of Hugo Chavez last year.
Around 40 people have been killed in violence around the protests.