Biden and Petro to discuss Venezuela sanctions at White House
The Colombian president has been calling for the U.S. to lift sanctions on Venezuela after the relations between the two neighboring countries
April 20, 2023 1:06am
Updated: April 20, 2023 1:08am
U.S. President Joe Biden and Colombian President Gustavo Petro plan to discuss sanctions on Venezuela during a meeting at the White House on Thursday, a senior administration official told Reuters.
During the first meeting between the two heads of state, Biden plans to suggest easing sanctions on Venezuela if the South American country's government promises to take concrete actions to hold free elections and talk with the opposition, the official said.
The Colombian president has been calling for the U.S. to lift sanctions on Venezuela after the relations between the two neighboring countries warmed up since Petro assumed office.
“Unilateral lifting of sanctions," the official said on condition of anonymity, "will line the pockets of people who have already stolen billions of dollars from Venezuela ... The two presidents are going to likely discuss it and I think we can find common ground.
Since assuming the presidency, Biden has eased some sanctions that were previously imposed on Venezuela in hopes that it would get the administration of Nicolas Maduro to engage in talks with members of the opposition.
Bogota organized an international conference that will take place on April 25 to promote the talks between Maduro’s socialist government and the opposition. Petro said that the objective of the conference would be “more democracy, zero sanctions.”
The Colombian government said it expects officials from Latin America and Europe. However, Maduro and the Venezuelan opposition will not be represented at the conference. While the White House has expressed approval of the conference, it has not yet announced whether a representative of the U.S. government would formally attend.
Petro is visiting Washington to renew the diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Colombia and discuss common issues between the two countries, including drug trafficking, undocumented migration, climate change, and Bogota’s peace efforts with rebel groups.
“Colombia is a key partner of the United States, and during the meeting, the two leaders will discuss how the United States and Colombia can continue to deepen our strong bilateral relationship by making progress on areas of mutual national interest, including promoting further economic and security cooperation,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.