The socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has begun exploratory talks with the opposition to resolve weeks of street unrest.
The meeting was proposed by foreign ministers of the country’s South American neighbours and members of regional bloc UNASUR. A representative of the Vatican will also attend.
A coalition of Venezuelan opposition parties agreed to the preliminary talks which its hoped will lead to the start of a peace process.
Two months of unrest against Venezuela’s high crime rate, its growing inflation and shortages of certain food staples have left 39 people dead.
The opposition movement has now increased its demands with calls for the government of President Maduro to resign.