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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds talks with Russia’s foreign minister on Friday as Moscow continues to support the isolated South American nation’s socialist government despite Washington’s warnings that it may ramp up sanctions.

Sergei Lavrov arrived in Caracas on Thursday, only hours after the State Department suggested its Venezuela sanctions program could begin targeting Russia, whose oil companies have helped Maduro by buying much of the OPEC nation’s crude.

Assistance from Russia could be decisive for Maduro to boost oil production and restore economic growth after a surprise opening of the economy last year that followed years of hyperinflation and a migration exodus of some 5 million people.

Lavrov is scheduled to meet with Maduro as well as Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.

This week, U.S. President Donald Trump met at the White House with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

 

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