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Monday, 8 July, 2002, 03:10 GMT 04:10 UK
Carter starts Venezuela talks
Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez was briefly ousted from power

Former US President Jimmy Carter has been holding talks with the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez at the start of a four-day visit to the country.

Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter hopes to bring reconciliation
Mr Carter is in Venezuela to try to mediate in the political crisis following events in April, when Mr Chavez was briefly forced to step down by the country's armed forces following a national strike and huge street demonstrations.

Speaking after the meeting, Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel said the talks had been productive, with the government's relationship with the main opposition groups heading the agenda.

At a meeting later in the day, Mr Carter was urged by editors of the main national newspapers who are bitterly opposed to the government to press Mr Chavez to set up a truth commission to look into the street violence that left more than 50 dead in April.

Cabinet changes

Mr Carter also met members of Venezuela's main business group, Fedecamaras, which was part of the opposition movement that organised the April protests.

Since that political turmoil, President Chavez has removed a number of deeply unpopular ministers from his cabinet.

He has also tried to enter into a period of discussions with opposition groups who say his government's left-wing agenda has harmed the country's economy and encouraged a near class war in Venezuela.

But to a large extent attempts at dialogue have been to no avail.

The sounds of pots and pans being banged in the streets of Caracas have continued to echo out during large opposition rallies calling for the president to step down.


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17 May 02 | Newsmakers
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