Peru's leader calls for arbitration in Venezuela crisis


Madrid (AFP)

Peru's President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski called for international arbitration in the Venezuelan crisis but only once political prisoners have been freed, according to an interview published Sunday in a Spanish newspaper.

"The fundamental issue is that all political prisoners be released," he told El Pais daily. "If that is not done there is no dialogue possible."

Once that condition was met then three nations friendly to the Venezuela regime could join three more critical countries to provide international arbitration on the crisis, he added.

The work of the group, which would be made up of respected elder statesmen, would need to take place on neutral territory, he added. He suggested the Dutch island of Curacao off the Venezuelan coast.

Venezuela has been locked in a political and economic crisis for months as thousands have marched for and against the government of leftist president Nicolas Maduro.

During that time more than 60 people have been killed and hundreds more arrested.

The NGO Foro Penal Venezolano, which provides legal aid to people it says have been arbitrarily detained, says the Maduro regime is currently holding 186 political prisoners.

Kuczynski, an outspoken critic of the Maduro regime, made his comments to the newspaper in an interview given two weeks ago, ahead of a visit to Spain starting Monday.

Talks under the auspices of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Vatican broke down late last year.