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Venezuela’s Maduro in Mexico on first foreign trip since US accusations

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Venezuela’s Maduro in Mexico on first foreign trip since US accusations

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Mexico on Friday to participate in a gathering of leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean, a rare trip abroad and his first since the United States accused him of drug trafficking.

Maduro was received by Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on arrival in Mexico City for the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, the Mexican Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

In March 2020, the US Department of Justice accused him of crimes including “narco-terrorism”, drug trafficking, and possession of weapons, offering $15 million for information leading to his arrest.

The designation came as the Trump administration worked to help opposition leader Juan Guaido take power.

The Venezuelan president, who usually travels to Cuba, a close ally, or to Caribbean countries, has avoided leaving his country after the reward was issued and his trip to Mexico is the first of an official nature since then.

His participation at the summit was confirmed at the last minute, a few hours before the heads of state and government, foreign ministers and envoys of the 33 countries that make up the body are set to meet.

The CELAC summit will be held at the National Palace in Mexico City on Saturday and opened by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Member states are expected to discuss a range of issues, with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the region at the top of the agenda.

Obrador, a leftist leader, has overseen warming relations with Venezuela since he came to power in 2018.

His government refused to recognize former parliamentary leader Guaido in 2019 when he proclaimed himself president of Venezuela.

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