Venezuela government accuses opposition of 'sabotaging' Mexico talks

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CARACAS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Venezuela's government said on Friday that the opposition is aiming to "sabotage" an internationally-mediated dialogue process underway in Mexico between the two sides in an effort to resolve the South American country's deep political crisis.

The statement came amid escalating disputes over the country's two main overseas assets, refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp in the United States and chemical company Monomeros in Colombia, which have been under opposition control since Washington and Bogota recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate president in 2019.

President Nicolas Maduro's government has said it intends to use the negotiation process, mediated by Norway, to press for the return of those assets to government control. In an earlier round of talks, the two sides had agreed to an agenda, including discussions over the "restoration of the right to assets," without further details.

In the Friday statement, the government's delegation pointed to a Colombian regulator's recent takeover https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/maduro-demand-control-crimped-finances-colombias-monomeros-ex-chair-says-2021-09-14 of Monomeros' operations, and to the U.S. Treasury Department's statement that it would reassess whether to continue https://www.reuters.com/business/us-denies-crystallex-request-citgo-shares-will-reassess-2022-2021-09-15 protecting Citgo from attempted seizure by creditors as signs that the opposition, through its key allies, was breaking from that commitment.

"The Bolivarian government alerts the Venezuelan people, the countries that accompany this dialogue, and the mediator, the Kingdom of Norway, of this attempt to disregard the agreements reached and break off the dialogue and negotiation process," the government said, according to a statement posted on Twitter by delegation leader Jorge Rodriguez.

An opposition spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The government this week said it intended to add Alex Saab, a businessman close to Maduro who is currently jailed in Cape Verde, to its negotiating team, and in response the opposition said it would not be "distracted" from its negotiating agenda.

The next round of talks are expected to take place from Sept. 24-27 in Mexico City. (Reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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