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Biden eases sanctions on Venezuela as talks resume with opposition

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration eased some oil sanctions against Venezuela on Saturday in a bid to bolster resumed negotiations between President Nicolás Maduro’s government and its opposition.

The Ministry of Finance is allow Chevron is resuming “limited” energy production in Venezuela after years of sanctions that have drastically curtailed oil and gas profits that have flowed to Maduro’s government. Earlier this year, the Treasury Department again allowed California-based Chevron and other US companies to perform basic maintenance on wells it operates jointly with state-run oil giant PDVSA.

Below the new policy, profits from energy sales would be used to pay off debt to Chevron, rather than provide profits to PDVSA.

Talks between Maduro’s government and the Unitary Platform resumed on Saturday in Mexico City after a break of more than a year. It remained to be seen whether they would take a different course from previous rounds of negotiations that failed to alleviate the country’s political deadlock.

A senior US government official briefed reporters on the US action on condition of anonymity, saying that easing sanctions was unrelated to the government’s efforts to boost global energy production in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that the decision was not expected. to influence global energy prices.

The official said the US will closely monitor Maduro’s commitment to the talks and reserves the right to reinstate or further ease sanctions depending on how the negotiations go.

“If Maduro tries to use these negotiations again to buy time to further consolidate his criminal dictatorship, the United States and our international partners must reverse the full force of our sanctions that brought his regime to the negotiating table in the first place,” he said. he. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

Ananta Agarwal contributed.

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