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Venezuela's Guaido hopes Washington will extend Citgo protection from creditors

CARACAS, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said Tuesday he hopes Washington will extend a license protecting refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp from creditors, amid political talks with Caracas that could lead to a revision of U.S. sanctions on the country.

A license protecting the Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA from seizure by creditors expires in January.

PDVSA put up a majority stake in Citgo as collateral for its 2020 bond on which it defaulted, meaning bondholders could seek its Citgo shares as repayment.

Guaido has controlled Citgo since the United States recognized him as Venezuela's legitimate leader in 2019, but President Nicolas Maduro retains official power and controls PDVSA operations inside Venezuela.

"It is important that the license is extended (for another year)," Guaido told Reuters in his Caracas office, adding that conversations with creditors "have always been a possibility."

"We are not enemies of the creditors nor of the oil companies," he added.

Last month, the U.S. revised its license with California-based Chevron in an effort to spur negotiations between Maduro's government and Guaido's opposition that began again last month.

The opposition leader said his interim government will only continue if lawmakers from Venezuela's opposition parties vote for it to on Jan 5.

Yet he stressed that his role as interim president is separate and does not depend on a vote since it was made legitimate by a constitutional article.

"(My) legal and diplomatic recognition... must be preserved and guaranteed," said Guaido.

Despite internal divisions, Guaido promised the Venezuelan opposition would be able to come together around a common goal, notably the selection of a single candidate ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

"Unity is a requirement, unifying around a governance agreement," he said, adding that it was premature to announce his own candidacy. (Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Mayela Armas; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)