Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has declared the beginning of negotiations with the US-backed opposition in an effort to resolve the political stalemate in the country following months of unrest.
Addressing some 6,500 troops Friday, Maduro said he had sent his Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez and Miranda state Governor Hector Rodriguez, for talks with the opposition in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
"The talks have begun nicely to move toward agreements of peace, agreement and harmony, and I ask for the support of all Venezuelan people to advance on the path of peace," he said.
He said the oil-rich country “has to process its conflicts" and seek solutions "by way of peace."
Maduro hailed the "good news" hours after Norway said it had made "preliminary contacts with representatives of the main political actors of Venezuela."
Norway, which referred to the talks as "exploratory discussions," started the mediation to bring to an end a months-long crisis.
The crisis began after opposition figure Juan Guaido declared himself the interim president after Maduro won his second six-year term in January.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that he was "very much supportive" of the Oslo talks.
Guaido also confirmed on Thursday that he had sent a delegation to Oslo, but denied that any direct negotiations had taken place.
Guido, the speaker of the now-defunct Venezuelan National Assembly, has said any diplomatic process must lead to the end of Maduroís government.
He orchestrated a coup against the government Maduro on April 30 during which a small group of armed troops accompanying Guaido clashed with soldiers in the capital, Caracas.
The putsch quickly petered out, though, and some 25 renegade soldiers sought refuge at the Brazilian embassy in Caracas.