Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro revealed on Friday that one of his senior officials had recently held meetings with a senior US diplomat in New York.

Maduro announced that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arisa, a fierce opponent of the United States, recently traveled to New York to meet US special envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams.

“The first meeting lasted for two hours and the second for three hours the next day”, Maduro told the Associated Press news agency in a video posted on Thursday.

“I invited Elliott Abrams to come to Venezuela privately, privately or publicly.

All he has to do is say where, when and how, and I’ll be there”.

Washington is one of the supporting forces of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guido, who seeks to topple Maduro, and the first to recognize his legitimacy after declaring himself a transitional president.

Maduro has repeatedly accused Washington of preparing to launch a military operation in Venezuela to control its oil capabilities.

But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo played down the importance of Maduro’s offer to hold talks with Washington.

“The fact that he said in public that he wants to talk to the United States is not new, but I think it shows his growing understanding that the Venezuelan people reject him and reject his model in government”, Pompeo said during a visit to Iceland.

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