Pope tamps down Maduro’s hopes for Vatican intervention

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis has acknowledged receiving a request from embattled Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro to help relaunch talks to end the country’s political crisis, but is ruling out any involvement unless opposition leader Juan Guaido requests it.

Francis said Tuesday he hadn’t read Maduro’s letter, which he said arrived via diplomatic pouch.

But he told reporters en route home from the United Arab Emirates that a previous Vatican diplomatic effort to facilitate talks between Maduro and the opposition “went up in smoke.” And he insisted on the basic diplomatic requirement that two sides to any conflict must jointly request external help in negotiations.

In his words, “I’ll have a look at the letter, I’ll see what can be done. But the preliminary conditions are that both sides ask for it.”

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