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Maduro in Moscow to discuss Venezuelan debt restructuring

Maduro in Moscow to discuss Venezuelan debt restructuring

MOSCOW: Embattled Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro arrived in Moscow on Wednesday to discuss financial aid for his crisis-stricken Latin American country with his Russian counterpart, the Kremlin said.

Venezuela, which has been rocked by deadly protests and economic chaos that has caused dire shortages of food and medicine, is counting on Russian support amid growing international isolation.

“With regard to the Venezuelan-Russian talks, debt restructuring is, of course, one of the subjects of the negotiations,” President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “No doubt the subject should be seriously discussed. That is why the talks are being conducted,” Peskov added.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet after taking part in an energy forum.

In 2011, Russia granted Venezuela a loan to finance the purchase of Russian arms, including tanks and missiles.

Venezuala has struggled to service the debt, which stood at $2.8 billion as of last year.

Moscow also appears to have found a roundabout way to prop up the crisis-stricken country by extending a loan through oil giant Rosneft. Rosneft, run by Putin’s top ally Igor Sechin, has lent its Venezuelan counterpart PDVSA around $6 billion since 2014, according to the oil major’s financial results released earlier this year.

Maduro’s unravelling leftist government is facing increasing international isolation, with close to 130 people killed in anti-regime protests and the United States putting the Venezuelan president under direct sanctions.

Moscow has sided with Maduro’s regime over the protests and criticised the Venez­uelan opposition for “disrupting” elections.

International powers accuse Maduro of dismantling democracy by taking over state institutions in a bid to counter opposition pressure for him to quit.

From Moscow Maduro is scheduled to travel to authoritarian Belarus and Turkey.

Russia and Venezuela enjoy a long history of ties and Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez, known for his passionate tirades against the United States, was a welcome guest at the Kremlin.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2017

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