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Venezuela’s Government, Opposition Agree to Set up Anti-Crisis Commission

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Venezuela’s government and opposition forces have agreed to set up a commission to discuss ways of overcoming the current political crisis, said the foreign ministry of Norway, which acts as a mediator in the negotiation process.

“We announce that the representatives of the main political actors in Venezuela are continuing the negotiations that were initiated in Oslo,” the ministry said in a statement. “As part of this process, a negotiation table has been established that will work in a continuous and efficient manner to reach an agreed-upon solution within the framework of the Constitution.”

“We emphasize the importance of the parties showing utmost caution in their comments and statements about the process,” the document reads.

Meanwhile, Miranda State Governor Hector Rodriguez, who represented Venezuela’s government at the Barbados talks, said an agreement with the opposition was possible.

“It will be a difficult path, which will require enormous work and patience,” he said in an address broadcast via the Periscope app. “But I believe we may sign an agreement on peaceful co-existence.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the three-days talks with the opposition in Barbados were very intense.

“We have an agreement with the government of Norway that we will not disclose the details. I can only say that our agenda included six provisions,” he said.

In May, the Venezuelan authorities and opposition held at least two rounds of indirect talks in Oslo. On Monday, the new round of talks has kicked off in Barbados. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that the meeting lasted for five hours and did not rule out that an agreement may be reached at the talks.

Minister of Communications and Information Jorge Rodriguez said on Wednesday the talks proceeded well.

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Court in Gibraltar Extends Iranian Tanker’s Detention for 30 Days

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A court in Gibraltar has extended the detention of an Iranian oil tanker for 30 days, AFP reported, citing Gibraltar’s attorney general. According to the agency, the order authorising the detention of the tanker can be extended for up to 90 days.

“We look forward to continuing to work constructively and positively with officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to facilitate the release of the Grace 1 pursuant to the satisfaction of all legal requirements,” Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told the territory’s parliament, as quoted by AFP.

On 4 July, the supertanker Grace 1 was detained off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicions of it carrying oil to Syria for refinement.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt discussed the issue earlier this week, with Mr Zarif urging London to release the tanker. He also stressed that Tehran would continue its oil exports under any circumstances. Mr Hunt, for his part, said that the Grace 1 would be released once Iran gives guarantees about its destination.

The tanker’s four crew members were freed on bail earlier this month after being questioned.

The situation in the Gulf has remained tense since the US tightened the sanctions it reimposed on the Iranian oil sector after quitting the 2015 nuclear deal.

A series of incidents, including attacks on oil tankers, took place in the Gulf of Oman in May and June. Washington has blamed the attacks on Tehran, but the latter has denied all the accusations.

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Russia in Confidential Consultations with the Netherlands on MH17 Crash

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Russia is having confidential consultations with the Netherlands on MH17 flight that was downed over Donbass in July 2014, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Friday.

“Such consultations are underway, but we agreed that the process will have a confidential character,” the diplomat said.

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Links Between Russia and EU’s Right-Wing Parties Cause for Concern, Says Merkel

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Relations between Moscow and EU’s right-wing political parties are a cause for concern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday during a press conference in Berlin.

“Some questions arise here,” she stated. “We have constantly monitored the very strong support that right-leaning parties have received from Russia in one way or the other.” “This is a cause for concern,” Merkel stressed.

The German chancellor also mentioned the scandal regarding the alleged financing of Italy’s Lega party by Russia, noting that the Italian side must investigate the allegations in detail.

Milan’s prosecution launched a case based on the publications on the US BuzzFeed website and in the Italian L’Espresso weekly news magazine shedding light on the alleged financing Lega was receiving from Russia, qualifying the case as international corruption.

The main suspect in the case is one of the associates of Italy’s Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, head of th-e Lombardy-Russia Association Gianluca Savoini. According to the prosecution, his voice can be heard on the BuzzFeed published audio recording of an alleged conversation with Russian entrepreneurs with ties to the Kremlin, during which a possible oil supply contract was discussed. The party could have received the deal dividends amounting to $65 mln.

Both Salvini and Savoini have denied the allegations.

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