After Opposition Election Win, U.S. Urges Venezuelan Parties to Talk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

The United States urged all Venezuelan political parties on Monday to follow up on the country’s elections with a dialogue to deal with the country’s economic and social challenges, saying Washington is ready to support such an effort.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated Venezuelans on Sunday’s legislative elections, in which the ruling Socialists lost their majority in the National Asseembly.

The United States has long had an acrimonious relationship with Venezuela, which under President Nicolas Maduro and previous President Hugo Chavez had been a vocal critic of Washington.

In a written statement, Kerry said the vote showed Venezuelans’ “overwhelming desire” for a change in the direction of the country, and urged authorities “to continue to tabulate and publish voting results in a timely and transparent fashion.”

Sunday’s victory for the opposition Democratic Unity coalition punished Maduro’s government for the deep economic and social crisis in the oil-producing country. It was the first time in 16 years that the “Chavismo” movement, named for former President Chavez, lost its majority in the 167-member assembly.

“Dialogue among all parties in Venezuela is necessary to address the social and economic challenges facing the country, and the United States stands ready to support such a dialogue together with others in the international community,” Kerry said.