WASHINGTON – The United States believes that free elections cannot be held in Venezuela as long as the President of the Bolivarian Republic, Nicolas Maduro, remains on the political scene. The US Secretary of state Michael Pompeo stated, speaking on Thursday at a joint press conference with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in Ottawa at the end of bilateral talks.

The Secretary of state replied negatively to the question whether the US position on Venezuela has changed, given the fact that US officials are negotiating with representatives of the authorities of this country at different levels. “No, our position has not changed. We consistently state that free elections in Venezuela are impossible as long as Maduro remains on the [political] stage,” Pompeo said. “We will continue our work and efforts in this direction,” he assured.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday confirmed that us officials are negotiating with representatives of the Venezuelan authorities at different levels. Later that day, the press service of the Maduro administration reported that contracts with the US government are “with his permission.” On Monday, the representative of the state Department in an interview in Washington made a statement that dozens of the closest allies of the Venezuelan leader in recent months tried to start negotiations with the United States about his overthrow.

The political crisis in the Bolivarian Republic escalated on January 23, when the opposition leader Juan Guido, whose appointment to the post of speaker of Parliament two days earlier revoked by the Supreme court, declared himself acting President. On the same day, it was recognized by the United States, they were joined by members of the Lima Group (except Mexico), the Organization of American States and most EU countries.