Nicolas Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he was prepared to hold negotiations with the US-backed opposition Juan Guaidó.

Maduro made this known to Russian state news agency in an interview in Caracas on Wednesday.

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“I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition so that we could talk for the good of Venezuela,” Maduro said.

Concise News had reported that Guaidó has been banned by the country’s Supreme Court from leaving the country and froze his bank accounts.

The move comes amid an escalating power struggle, after Guaidó declared himself interim president last week.

He has been backed by the US and other countries and Maduro has major allies too, including Russia.

Maduro ruled out an early presidential election – saying the next one was not due until 2025 – but said he would support early parliamentary elections as “a good form of political discussion”.

On Saturday, the European Union gave President Maduro an ultimatum to call elections within eight days, or the bloc would recognise Guaido as President.

The opposition has asked supporters to take part in a two-hour peaceful protest on Wednesday. It is as yet unclear if Guaidó will attend.

A group of North and South American countries has meanwhile opposed any outside military involvement in the country.

Peru’s Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio said the Lima Group – a 14-country body including Canada set up in 2017 to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela – was opposed to “military intervention”.

US officials have stated that all options to resolve the crisis “are on the table”.

Venezuela has been facing acute economic problems and there has been an upsurge in violence in recent weeks.

Protests have been held across the country since Maduro began his second term on 10 January. He was elected last year during a controversial vote in which many opposition candidates were barred from running, or jailed.

At least 40 people are believed to have died and hundreds have been arrested since 21 January, the UN says.

Hyperinflation and shortages of essentials such as food and medicine have forced millions to flee the nation.