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Venezuela government, opposition meet with mediators in Dominican Republic

CARACAS - Venezuela's opposition and top government officials said on Saturday they met with a group of mediators in the Dominican Republic to lay the groundwork for a dialog amid a political standoff and a deepening economic crisis.
The OPEC nation is suffering a severe recession due to low oil prices and a collapsing socialist economic model. President Nicolas Maduro is locked in a standoff with the legislature after the opposition won a sweeping majority last year.
Both sides said they met with former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and former presidents Martin Torrijos of Panama and Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic. On Friday, the US State Department announced Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken to Zapatero to welcome the initiative and said that the United States stood ready to help the mediators.
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