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Venezuela opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez reveals he held talks with senior military officials

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Venezuela opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez reveals he held talks with senior military officials
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REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez revealed on Thursday that he had been negotiating with senior military officials while he was under house arrest.

Speaking to reporters from the Spanish diplomatic residence where he’s evading an arrest warrant, Lopez said that he had met with commanders and generals from different sectors of Venezuela’s military in his home in the past three weeks.

“There we committed ourselves to contribute to the end of the usurpation,” he said.

Lopez added that more “military movements” were under way suggesting that more efforts to oust Maduro could be underway.

“The fissure that opened on April 30 will become a crack, and that crack is what is going to break the levee, “ he said.

But Maduro tweeted photos of himself with army personnel on Tuesday to show that the military remained on his side.

The former mayor of the Chacao municipality in Caracas was arrested during a protest movement in 2014 and transferred to house arrest in 2017. He was seen alongside Venezuelan National Assembly chief Juan Guaido and members of the military on a video published Tuesday after he was released from house arrest by army personnel under Guaido's command.

Lopez is again wanted by Venezuela’s justice system who issued a warrant for his arrest on Thursday, arguing he violated an order requiring him to stay under house arrest.

A Spanish government spokeswoman said Madrid would not hand over Lopez to the country’s authorities. The Spanish ambassador to Venezuela Jesus Silva confirmed the Spanish government had no intention of handing over Lopez in a tweet.

Lopez' comments come after heavy clashes between opposition supports and military forces loyal to Maduro on Tuesday and Wednesday following Guaido's call to for the military to be part of a peaceful national uprising to oust Maduro. Clashes left four dead and hundreds injured or detained.

Maduro denied that he was preparing to flee the country for Cuba but was talked out of it by Russia — a claim put forth by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an interview with CNN.

What happens next?

Guaido has suggested a general strike as the next step to oust Maduro and the US has announced more sanctions against the Venezuelan government. The US has already imposed sanctions on the state-run oil company PDVSA, an important lifeline for the government.

Pompeo has not ruled out a military intervention to force Maduro to leave but said they still prefer to employ diplomatic and economic pressure.

Lopez said they could not rule out a foreign military intervention to make Maduro leave because they could not exclude any "fighting tool".

Russia said on Thursday they would continue talks on Venezuela with the US and China called for a settlement via dialogue.