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Venezuela's government seeks to widen talks to include more groups

CARACAS (Reuters) - The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is seeking meetings with political and business groups, and unions, among others, so that they can join negotiations alongside opposition politicians led by Juan Guaido, it said on Tuesday.

Jorge Rodriguez, president of the ruling party-dominated National Assembly and leader of the government's delegation in negotiations, said they would seek meetings with various sectors following Maduro's instructions, who last week called for talks to be more "inclusive."

Rodriguez did not mention a return to talks established in Mexico last August, which were suspended by the government following the extradition to the United States of Colombian businessman Alex Saab, a close Maduro ally.

The opposition maintains that it appoints its delegates, not the ruling party. Since 2020 the opposition has complained that the ruling party has established another opposition more to its liking by bringing together deputies that were expelled from a number of political organizations for corruption.

These deputies deny the allegations and now sit in Venezuela's National Assembly, with Rodriguez arguing they have the right to take part in talks.

The South American country is gripped in a long-running political and economic crisis that has led to the migration of more than 5 million people since at least 2017, according to UN data, while Maduro's government blames the economic collapse on U.S. sanctions.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Sam Holmes)