Venezuelan President Meets Pope Francis, Announces surprise talks with the opposition.

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The socio-economic crisis in Venezuela took a surprise turn today when the government of President Nicolas Maduro announced that they will conduct talks with the opposition on the coming Sunday. The announcement came after Mr. Maduro met with Pope Francis in a visit.

The country has been in a state of economic and political crisis since 2013. The opposition refused to accept the result of Mr. Maduro’s winning the election in 2013, alleging voter fraud.

The opposition lawmakers have long accused the National Electoral Council of being under the government’s control.

The recent wave of protests began after electoral authorities suspended the process for a referendum that would allow for the removal of Mr. Maduro as President. The opposition’s protests are often characterised as violent.

The talks come at a time when the country which is rich in oil, is facing extreme shortage of food, and acute inflation. The government has blamed the opposition for the dire situation, claiming that they are harming the process of rebuilding.

The recent talks would be a ‘national dialogue’ between both sides. Pope Francis has said that he hopes both parties show courage in pursuing the path of sincere and constructive dialogue. The Vatican along with the regional entity Unasur will be facilitating the talks.

The election council scrapped the referendum due to alleged fraud which happened while the signatures for the referendum were collected. After the referendum was scrapped the government was met with wide spread criticism.

Venezuela’s national assembly held an emergency session and accused the socialist government headed by Mr. Maduro of a coup against the democratic process.

The decision was also met with massive student protests on Monday in the city of San Cristobal. It is expected that nationwide protests would happen on coming Wednesday.

The government has said that the opposition is backed by the US and other foreign states that are trying to take over the oil of the country and are thus trying to destabilise the government.

The food shortage is Venezuela has caused international concern but critics have also pointed out the imperialist interest in oil by foreign states which the government has noted, isn’t unfounded.