RIYADH (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, state media reported, as the kingdom continues to expand its diplomatic outreach beyond traditional Western alliances.
Maduro was received at the airport of the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah by Deputy Governor of Mecca region Prince Badr bin Sultan and other officials, Saudi state news agency SPA said.
Venezuela’s Maduro is the latest US foe to visit Saudi Arabia as the kingdom rebuilds alliances without the blessing of the United States, its long-time ally. Riyadh has restored ties with Iran and Syria over the last months and strengthened its cooperation with China and Russia.
SPA did not give a reason for Maduro’s visit but the fellow OPEC nation had sought coordination in the past with Saudi Arabia on falling oil prices and US sanctions.
Maduro’s visit comes a day before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken lands in Saudi Arabia for talks with the Saudi leadership.
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Since taking office, US President Joe Biden has eased some sanctions on Venezuela – many imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump in a “maximum pressure” campaign – to encourage dialogue. But negotiations have stalled again.
The United States says it will ease sanctions on the OPEC nation only in return for concrete steps toward free elections there.
(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
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