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Venezuela’s Government Will Halt Talks With The Opposition Over Maduro Ally Alex Saab’s Abduction To The United States

Venezuela’s National Assembly President Jorge Rodriguez confirmed on Saturday that the country’s forthcoming talks with the opposition will be postponed due to the same-day extradition of Alex Saab, a 49-year-old envoy of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. According to Reuters, Rodriguez, who heads the Venezuelan government’s negotiation team, stated that officials would not be attending the discussions, which were due to begin on Sunday. The National Assembly president stressed that the breakdown in discussions is in response to the “brutal aggression” directed towards Saab.

The extradition has been termed as a “kidnapping” by Maduro’s government, which has promised to take additional action. Saab was refueling his flight from Venezuela to Iran in June 2020 when he was detained in Cape Verde on allegations of leading a money laundering conspiracy in Venezuela. As per the allegations, which were filed in a Florida court, Saab was constantly identified as an operative who aided Maduro in getting trade deals. Saab’s brazen abduction by the US has been strongly condemned by the United Nations and several countries across the world.

The US says that the diplomat violated US sanctions on Venezuela and benefited from overpriced contracts related to his food distribution and subsidy program, known as ‘Local Committees for Supply and Production’ (Spanish acronym CLAP). According to the government officials in Venezuela, CLAP has helped feed more than six million Venezuelan households (or more than 60% of the country’s population).

Saab’s lawyers have described the US allegations as “politically motivated,” saying that at the time of his detention in June 2020, Saab was on his way to arrange the supply of fuel and other humanitarian supplies to Venezuela. Furthermore, the Venezuelan government has claimed that individuals engaged in Saab’s detention are violating international law and conventions.

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