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Venezuela president hoping for improved US ties

The troubled relationship between the two countries, reached a new low point, when Obama designated Venezuela a threat to national security

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Venezuela is interested in improving its rocky relations with the United States, and hopes President Barack Obama will “rectify” US policy toward the crisis-torn South American country, its president Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday.

The troubled relationship between the two countries, which have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, reached a new low point last March, when Obama designated Venezuela a threat to national security.

Maduro comments on reconciliation come one day ahead of a debate by the Organization of American States, which will decide whether Venezuela’s leftist government is upholding democratic norms enshrined in the organization’s Democratic Charter.

Maduro met with US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon on Wednesday at the Miraflores presidential palace.

The Venezuelan leader said he told Shannon he hopes the two countries will sign an “agenda of respect” at some point “sooner rather than later.”

“I hope President Obama will rectify the position he’s taken... and in the last seven months of his administration,” Maduro said, adding that he is seeking “a path of dialogue and respect, with a positive agenda.”

In addition to declaring the country a threat, the Obama administration slapped sanctions on seven Venezuelan government officials, and renewed those sanctions in March.

Shannon arrived in Venezuela on Tuesday on behalf of US Secretary of State John Kerry, at the invitation of the Venezuelan government, according to Washington.

The United States has not commented so far on the meeting in Caracas.

Venezuela, once known for its vast oil wealth, is in the midst of a deepening crisis, with outbreaks of looting and protests over food shortages.

Soaring crime, runaway inflation and a sharply contracting economy, worsened by falling oil prices, have fueled a drive for a recall referendum to remove Maduro, as a way out of the crisis.

The OAS permanent council is holding two special sessions on the situation, including a debate on Thursday on whether Venezuela’s leftist government is upholding democratic norms.