Maduro says he will not negotiate with the opposition until the ally is released

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that there will be no new negotiations with opposition politicians until the “kidnapping” of a top government official, Alex Saab, who has been extradited to the US, comes to an end.

Last month, the Venezuelan government withdrew from negotiations with the opposition, which began in August in Mexico, following Saab’s extradition. The Colombian businessman is accused by US prosecutors of money laundering.

“There are still no conditions to restart (dialogue),” Maduro told reporters after voting in Sunday’s regional elections. US prosecutors say Saab embezzled about $350 million from Venezuela through the US as part of an exchange rate-linked bribery scheme controlled by the Venezuelan government.

Maduro’s allies say the accusations against Saab are part of a US economic war against Venezuela.

The US-backed opposition said Saab had enriched himself through trade deals with the government and had done nothing to alleviate the plight of Venezuelans.

Saab pleaded not guilty to money laundering, according to a court document filed Nov. 15 in District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera Written by Oliver Griffin; editing by Diane Craft)

Reference: CNN Brasil

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