This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks in Moscow with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on September 25, the Kremlin has said.
Maduro will fly into Moscow later on September 24, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin and Maduro would discuss the state of their two countries’ relations and wider regional issues, but added that he was not expecting any deals to be signed.
Peskov said earlier that Putin will meet with the presidents of Venezuela, Kazakhstan, and the Philippines in Sochi on the sidelines of the Valdai Club meeting, an annual gathering of Russian and Western foreign-policy experts set for September 30- October 3.
The United States has increased pressure on Maduro to step down following months of protests against his rule.
Washington has also pressed Russia and China to withdraw what he called their “intolerable” support for Maduro. Moscow has been one of Maduro’s main supporters, providing loans and help for Venezuela’s military and oil industry.
The United States and more than a dozen Latin American countries agreed on September 23 to investigate and arrest associates and senior officials of Maduro’s government who are suspected of crimes like drug trafficking, money laundering, and financing terrorism.
In a speech broadcast on Twitter, Maduro said on September 23 he would go to Russia on an official visit “to meet with our friend — President Putin.”
He thanked Russia for its support for Venezuela’s “sovereignty and its right to peace.”
Maduro also said he was open to talks with U.S. President Donald Trump in the future if the U.S. leader “decides to correct the wrong policy of waging war against Venezuela at some point he inherited from Barack Obama.”
Maduro took office in 2013 and was sworn in for a second term in January following elections in May 2018 that were marred by an opposition boycott and claims of vote-rigging.
The opposition has also accused Maduro of mismanaging the economy, sending the country into an economic crisis. Maduro has blamed outsiders, including the United States, for creating the crisis.