MEXICO CITY (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister said Thursday that Moscow maintains its position there should be a “national dialogue without previous conditions” in Venezuela to resolve the South American nation’s protracted political crisis.
Sergey Lavrov said that in making his tour of Latin America that he brings no kind of offer that would facilitate an exit by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
“We do not bring any proposal. We respect our partners,” he said in response to a question on the matter at a news conference in Mexico City, one of his stops on the trip that took him first to Havana and will end in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
Lavrov said calls for Maduro’s exit as a prerequisite for dialogue are unhelpful for trying to solve the crisis that has lasted for years and was aggravated by 2018 elections. Maduro’s re-election that year was deemed fraudulent by the U.S. and 60 other nations that have supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s claim to be interim president.
Russia agrees with Mexico in rejecting the use of force to resolve the Venezuelan crisis.
Moscow has long pushed for dialogue in line with the stance of Maduro’s government, an ally, and Mexico has defended the idea that Maduro’s government should not be excluded from any conversations.
Lavrov said there have been “positive advances” in conversations between Venezuela’s government and “opposition forces of patriotic thinking,” but added he expects dialogue will be more “inclusive.”
The regional situation was a matter of discussion in his meeting with his Mexican counterpart, Marcelo Ebrard, and both expressed their interest in reinforcing political and economic relations between Mexico and Russia.
Lavrov’s visit came as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government is focused on maintaining cordial relations with Washington.
Nonetheless, both Russia and Mexico made clear their interest in reinforcing multilateral approaches in regional and global matters and reinforcing both political and commercial ties.
Mexico is interested in gaining more access for tequila exports to the Russian market, for example.
Moscow wants to advance accords on counter-terrorism cooperation and investments in the energy and agricultural sectors, as well as large infrastructure projects and military-technological cooperation, areas where Lavrov said there are promising prospects.