Venezuela’s top diplomat in Washington said that after five months of quiet diplomacy, relations between the two adversaries were still tentative, with no real rapprochement yet after a decade of hostility. “It is a work in progress,” said Maximilien Arvelaiz, Venezuela’s charge d’affaires in Washington and the point person in the high-level contacts with State Department diplomats. “It’s not like we now understand each other better.” Arvelaiz, speaking this week in his first interview since the talks began, added: “After so many years of mistrust we are learning to work together and it helps to talk about our differences on a bilateral level.” The effort by Latin America’s most ardently anti-Washington government and major U.S. oil supplier comes as President Nicolas Maduro struggles with a decaying economy that has been left more isolated by close ally Cuba’s warming U.S. ties. Relations hit a low during the rule of Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez. The sides have met several times since April and U.S. diplomats are expected to return to Caracas in the next few weeks to discuss next steps, Arvelaiz said.
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