Pope Francis suggested that representatives of the Venezuelan government and opposition meet at the Vatican to resume a dialogue on resolving the political crisis in the Andean nation, the National Assembly speaker said Friday.
But the meeting, tentatively set for late January, has still not materialized, Julio Borges, a key leader of the opposition, told foreign correspondents in Caracas.
He said that opponents of President Nicolas Maduro decided they would not go to Vatican City without a prior commitment from the government to accept some of their demands, such as the holding of early elections.
"I want to clarify, it was not that the pope called us and invited us. Everything was done through the office of the papal nuncio," Borges said, adding that the possibility of talks at the Vatican has not been ruled out.
"In any case, we said we were not going to go because we understood that the intention of the pope was not to indulge in political tourism by going there and taking a photo with him, rather that the whole intention was to announce concrete things," the assembly speaker said.
Borges acknowledged that for the moment, efforts to resolve the crisis are limited to an exchange of written proposals among the government, opposition, and international mediators.
Last Sunday, Maduro said that he was "arranging an encounter with Pope Francis in the Vatican" where he would have the opportunity to "embrace" the leaders of the MUD opposition alliance.
The dialogue broke down Dec. 6, when MUD declined to take part in a session planned for that day, citing the government's ostensible failure to deliver on previous agreements.