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  • President Nicolas Maduro at an event marking the Barrio Adentro Health mission April 20, 2017.

    President Nicolas Maduro at an event marking the Barrio Adentro Health mission April 20, 2017. | Photo: Prensa Presidencial

"Dialogue is the only way to build peace," said President Maduro, who like the U.N. believes the opposition needs to re-engage in talks.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro renewed calls to opposition leaders for dialogue, amid escalating violence stemming from opposition-led protests.

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"I hope they have the courage to take that step, and soon, to sit down to dialogue and speak with truths and seek ways of seeking peace in Venezuela," Maduro said at an event marking the complete coverage of the Barrio Adentro health mission around the country.

Maduro said he had received several messages from current and former presidents, as well as from opposition representatives responding to his renewed calls for dialogue at the massive gathering of government supporters on Wednesday.

"I am giving the Venezuelan opposition another opportunity and I ask that we all give ourselves another opportunity, for all sectors that want peace," he added.

"Dialogue is the only way to build peace, respect and disarm the hatred and disarm the death that you folks from the opposition have activated."

Following a week of turbulent opposition protests that claimed the lives of six people and left more than 50 billion bolivars in damages, some right-wing leaders have continued to call supporters to the streets to demand Maduro's ouster.

Opposition supporters also took to the streets in the tens of thousands on Wednesday, but peaceful marches broke out into skirmishes with police when some protesters attempted to break police areas and head to areas of the city where pro-government demonstrators were gathered.

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Since then, there has been scattered violence throughout the country, with at least one police officer killed and various others seriously injured, in addition to considerable looting and vandalism of government buildings and local shops.

Also on Thursday, the United Nations called on the Venezuelan government and opposition forces to make a sincere commitment to dialogue to resolve differences in the country, something President Nicolas Maduro has been advocating long before the right-wing abandoned the Vatican-sponsored talks in January.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, expressed concern over the recent events in Venezuela, where Maduro accused the opposition of resorting to violence and destabilization with foreign support.

The diplomat said that the parties must take concrete steps to reduce polarization and tensions and thus avoid further confrontation. The right-wing opposition, however, has called for more street protests over the weekend to culminate in a major event on Monday.

Jorge Rodriguez, government delegate to the talks, said that dialogue between the government and the opposition are essential to progress toward peace.

"Venezuela, which aspires to peace, wants a dialogue between the opposition and the Bolivarian Revolution," Rodriguez said.

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