US mediation expert to push Venezuela talks

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – A Harvard-educated conflict resolution expert is flying to Caracas next week to attempt the seemingly impossible: jumpstarting political dialogue in deeply polarized Venezuela.

Jim Tull plans several days of closed-door workshops with representatives of Venezuela’s socialist government and the opposition. It comes as the U.S. is threatening more financial sanctions and talk of military action to oust President Nicolas Maduro is swirling.

Previous attempts at dialogue have failed amid bitter recriminations.

The Spanish-speaking mediator helped ease tensions in Venezuela following a 2002 coup against then-President Hugo Chavez.

Tull’s mission is being organized by the Boston Group, an informal network of U.S. and Venezuelan lawmakers from across the political spectrum. It’s funded the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution, which played a major role in Colombia’s peace process.

FILE - In this March 15, 2018 file photo, a supporter of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro attends a rally marking the fifth anniversary of Chavez's death, in Caracas, Venezuela. A Harvard-trained conflict resolution expert is flying to Caracas to attempt the seemingly impossible: jumpstarting political dialogue in deeply polarized Venezuela. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

FILE - In this March 15, 2018 file photo, a supporter of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro attends a rally marking the fifth anniversary of Chavez's death, in Caracas, Venezuela. A Harvard-trained conflict resolution expert is flying to Caracas to attempt the seemingly impossible: jumpstarting political dialogue in deeply polarized Venezuela. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

FILE – In this March 15, 2018 file photo, a supporter of Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro attends a rally marking the fifth anniversary of Chavez’s death, in Caracas, Venezuela. A Harvard-trained conflict resolution expert is flying to Caracas to attempt the seemingly impossible: jumpstarting political dialogue in deeply polarized Venezuela. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

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