Today marks the second and last day of meetings between Venezuelan government representatives and opposition parties that are taking place in the Dominican Republic.
The sides are hoping the discussions will help develop Venezuela's economy and maintain peace after opposition forces broke out into protest last April, leaving more than 100 people dead.
Dominican president, Danielo Medina, who wasn’t expected to take part in this round of talks, arrived today to help mediate the dialogues which regained momentum last September.
As talks resumed yesterday after a brief hiatus, Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas, a principal mediator, said: "Both sides have demonstrated a strong commitment to dialogue," noting that he hopes they can walk away today with a “definitive agreement" for reconciliation.
Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the foreign ministers of Chile, Mexico, Bolivia, Nicaragua and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are all helping broker the talks.
Representing the Venezuelan government are Delcy Rodriguez, president of the National Constituent Assembly, ANC, and minister of communication and information, Jorge Rodriguez.
The opposition has sent Julio Borges, of the right-wing party Justice First as one of its delegates, along with Enrique Marquez of the New Times party.
The Venezuelan government is requesting the opposition accept the legality of the ANC, which went into session August 2017. They also want opposition forces and constituents to help lift sanctions on the country enforced by the US government.
The opposition wants the government of President Nicolas Maduro to recognize several of its parties within the ANC, despite not having participated in last October's nationwide municipal elections. It also wants the government to open the country to "humanitarian aid."
After December talks between the two sides, President Medina said the government and opposition "declare that there has been significant progress in the search for an agreement that peacefully resolves the situation in Venezuela."
Not on hand at these first of 2018 talks is the former lead opposition negotiator Timoteo Zambrano. Zambrano, a member of the National Assembly, stepped down last week after he was apparently "censured" by fellow opposition parties for "collaborating" with the government.
"I've been censured by some opposition delegates at the Dominican Republic negotiations... for this reason, I'm stepping down from my post," he told reporters last week.