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Venezuelan cardinal calls on government to grant amnesty for imprisoned opponents

Venezuela's top representative of the Roman Catholic Church is urging President Hugo Chavez's government to free prisoners whom the opposition claims have been wrongly jailed on politically motivated charges.

Talks between an opposition politician and Vice President Nicolas Maduro about the possible release of imprisoned Chavez foes stopped after the president announced last month he would travel to Cuba to undergo cancer-related surgery.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa said Monday that Chavez's government should not delay an amnesty that would allow the release of government opponents and permit others living in exile to return to Venezuela.

Chavez said he said he was open to dialogue with his adversaries after he won re-election in October.

Opponents say an important step in that direction would be freeing Chavez adversaries and allowing those in exile to return.