Venezuela leader Nicolas Maduro seeks talks with Obama

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Media caption,

The offer of dialogue may not be taken seriously, as Irene Caselli reports

Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro has invited US President Barack Obama to join him in talks aimed at resolving the problems between the two countries.

Mr Maduro said the meeting would help "put the truth out on the table".

He has accused US conservatives and media organisations of plotting to overthrow his government.

Earlier on Friday Venezuela revoked the accreditations of CNN reporters covering the country's crisis. Eight people have died in recent protests.

In a news conference on Friday, Mr Maduro said: "I call for a dialogue between Venezuela and the United States and its government.

"Let's initiate a high-level dialogue and let's put the truth out on the table."

Image source, AFP
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Protests against the government have entered their second week

The dialogue will be "difficult and complex", Mr Maduro said, until the American government accepted "the full autonomy and independence of Latin America".

On Sunday Venezuela expelled three US diplomats accused of meeting violent groups linked to the opposition.

'War propaganda'

Earlier Venezuela had revoked the accreditation of CNN's Caracas-based reporter, Osmary Hernandez, and those of two other CNN journalists sent to Venezuela to cover a wave of opposition marches.

The government says the protests are part of a coup attempt.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, denounced the latest action on Friday, saying: "This is not how democracies behave.

"I call on the Venezuelan government to step back from its efforts to stifle dissent through force and respect basic human rights.

"The solution to Venezuela's problems can only be found through dialogue with all Venezuelans, engaging in a free exchange of opinions in a climate of mutual respect."

On Thursday, Mr Maduro threatened to "take action" against CNN unless it ceased what he described as "hostile coverage".

"I won't accept war propaganda against Venezuela. If they don't rectify themselves, out of Venezuela," he said.

Image source, AFP
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Journalists took to the streets earlier this month to complain about the shortage of printing paper

One of the two US-based CNN journalists who had their work permits revoked, Patricia Janiot, said she had been harassed by Venezuelan officials as she left the country.

In a statement, the network said it was still negotiating with the authorities.

"We hope the government reconsiders its decision. Meanwhile, we will carry on covering events in Venezuela in a fair, accurate and balanced manner," read the statement.

A close ally of the late president, Hugo Chavez, Mr Maduro was elected by a narrow margin last April.

Political divisions have deepened since the election, and the economy has taken a downturn.

Henrique Capriles, who was defeated in last year's presidential election, and other opposition leaders have called on people to take to the streets on Saturday, in marches "against violence".