Officials arrive in capital Caracas to discuss "bilateral agenda," says Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, as conflict in Ukraine grinds, driving higher gas prices and forcing Washington to recalibrate other foreign policy objectives.

Biden administration and Venezuela's government have shown a willingness to engage after years of hostilities between Washington and Caracas.
Biden administration and Venezuela's government have shown a willingness to engage after years of hostilities between Washington and Caracas. (AP Archive)

US officials have arrived in Venezuela in the latest bid to rebuild relations with the South American oil giant as the conflict in Ukraine drags on, driving higher gas prices and forcing the US to recalibrate other foreign policy objectives.

The delegation arrived in Caracas to discuss the "bilateral agenda," Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday without giving any details on the officials, nor the issues they discussed with the head of parliament, Jorge Rodriguez.

The delegation that arrived in Caracas includes ambassador James Story, who heads the US government's Venezuelan Affairs Unit out of neighbouring Colombia, said a State Department spokesperson.

It also includes Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy on hostage affairs. The State Department official described Carstens' trip as a welfare visit focused on the safety of several US citizens detained in Caracas, including a group of oil executives from Houston-based Citgo jailed more than four years ago.

It's unclear what else the US officials are seeking to accomplish during the mission.

But it follows a surprise visit in March by the two men and Juan Gonzalez, the National Security Council director for the Western Hemisphere, that was the first White House trip to the county in more than two decades.

READ MORE: Biden expresses US support for restarting Venezuela talks

Rebuilding relations

Since then, both the Biden administration and Venezuela's socialist government have shown a willingness to engage after years of hostilities between Washington and Caracas over President Nicolas Maduro's 2018 re-election, which was US and allies say was marred by irregularities.

First, Maduro freed two Americans as a goodwill gesture and promised to resume negotiations in Mexico with the US-backed opposition.

The US then renewed a license so that oil companies including Chevron can continue to operate in the OPEC nation, which has been under tight sanctions since 2019. 

Then earlier this month the White House lifted sanctions on a top Venezuelan official who is First Lady Cilia Flores' nephew.

READ MORE: US 'lifts some sanctions' on Venezuela to spur political talks

Source: TRTWorld and agencies