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Venezuela and Turkey seek closer trade relations

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Caracas, Venezuela —

Venezuela signed various cooperation agreements with Turkey on Friday, at a time when the South American nation seeks to strengthen its trade relations with allied countries to try to overcome the effects of the economic sanctions that the United States has imposed on the government of President Nicolás Maduro and try to revitalize its economy.

The agreements in areas such as tourism, agriculture, fishing, health, education and the industrial sector were signed within the framework of the visit to Venezuela by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The main current economic relationship between Venezuela and Turkey is the commercialization of gold, with which the Maduro administration seeks alternatives to obtain income and circumvent the effects of the United States sanctions.

The US sanctions seek to prevent the Venezuelan socialist government from conducting financial and commercial transactions abroad, accessing Venezuela’s international assets and dealing in oil, gold or other assets. Washington also prohibited Americans and their international partners from doing business with Caracas to pressure Maduro to leave power, arguing that he was elected in 2018 in fraudulent elections.

The United States and other countries have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as a legitimate leader.

Venezuela, for its part, has strengthened ties with allied countries such as China, Russia, Iran and Turkey, which are among the countries that maintain trade relations with the South American country.

“In difficult times we were with Venezuela and we will continue to be together with Venezuela,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during his speech at the third meeting of the mixed cooperation commission. Turkey has condemned US sanctions.

“We are going to take the necessary steps” to further strengthen cooperation and “we continue to negotiate about some (other) agreements,” Cavusoglu added, according to the simultaneous translation into Spanish.

The relationship between Caracas and Ankara experienced a rebound in 2017 with the signing of two dozen bilateral agreements.

Maduro, in a joint statement with the Turkish foreign minister, stressed that Turkey “has supported Venezuela in all the situations that we have had to live through” due to the sanctions and the new coronavirus pandemic.

“We have been able to build a path” of “cooperation and mutual benefit,” Maduro commented, also thanking Turkey for its position of condemning “openly and clearly, and very firmly, the unilateral coercive measures taken against Venezuela.”

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