Maduro reveals secret Venezuela meetings with US

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has confirmed that one of his top officials held two meetings with a prominent US diplomat.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, a harsh critic of the United States, traveled recently to New York to meet with the US special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams.

The first meeting lasted “two hours and the second three hours, a day later,” Maduro told news agency Associated Press in a video released on Thursday.

“I invited Elliott Abrams to come to Venezuela -- in private, in public, in secret. All he has to do is say where, when and how, and I'll be there,” added Maduro.

Washington is one of the driving forces behind Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's bid to drive Maduro from power.

The United States was also one of the first countries to recognize Guaido as interim president after his self-declaration last month.

Maduro has repeatedly accused Washington of wanting to launch a military invasion of Venezuela to gain access to its vast oil reserves.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played down the significance of Maduro's offer for talks.

“The fact that he has publicly said he wants to talk with the United States is not new, but I think it demonstrates his increasing understanding that the Venezuelan people are rejecting him and his model of governance,” said Pompeo during a visit to Iceland.

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