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Obama calling for conversation around Venezuela aimed at resolution

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 28:  Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks to the media following a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York on July 28, 2015 in New York City. Maduro is in New York to speak with the UN about his country's escalating border dispute with Guyana.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 28: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks to the media following a meeting with UN chief Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York on July 28, 2015 in New York City. Maduro is in New York to speak with the UN about his country's escalating border dispute with Guyana. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

The Obama administration and governments in Latin America are encouraging efforts by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to defuse an increasingly tense standoff in Venezuela

Zapatero said in a visit to Caracas this week that President Nicolas Maduro and leaders of the opposition expressed a willingness to launch a national dialogue aimed at resolving the country's challenges.

It's unclear what the next steps will be but the U.S. State Department on Friday said it welcomes the initiative as a way to guarantee respect for the Venezuelan people and the rule of law. The foreign ministries of Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay also made a call for dialogue.

Zapatero's peacemaking follows a week of violent clashes between security forces and the opposition who are demanding Maduro's ouster.

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