Venezuela’s disputed president Nicolas Maduro is holding firm in refusing to step down amid mounting political and international pressure, but said he is “willing to sit down” and negotiate with opposition leaders “for the sake of Venezuela’s peace and its future.”

The former union leader and bus driver told Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday that any talks with the opposition could be held with the mediation of other countries; however, he rejected calls for a snap election as blackmail.

“I won legitimately,” he said. “If the imperialists want a new election, let them wait until 2025.”

Maduro, who rose to power after replacing Hugo Chavez six years ago, is battling a surge of political maneuvering from the opposition in recent weeks – including the head of the opposition-led national assembly, Juan Guaido, declaring himself interim head of state in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority.

This move prompted two dozen nations, including the United States and Russia, to pick sides in the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis.

As heard on The Hagmann Report
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