Vladimir Putin Nicolas Maduro
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday Sept. 25, 2019. Nicolas Maduro is on a working visit to Moscow. Image Credit: AP

Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin told Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro Wednesday he supported talks between the embattled leader and the opposition, warning that refusing dialogue could further threaten the crisis-stricken country.

Welcoming the leftist leader at the Kremlin, Putin reiterated support for Maduro’s regime but also indicated the Venezuelan president should be open to dialogue with his critics.

“No doubt we support the dialogue that you, Mr President, and your government are having with the opposition forces,” Putin said.

“We believe that any refusal to have dialogue is irrational, harms the country, and only threatens the population’s well-being.”

Putin praised growing cooperation between the two countries, adding that Russia planned to send to Venezuela 1.5 million doses of flu vaccine “in the near future”.

The South American leader also praised bilateral cooperation. “Together we can overcome any difficulties,” Maduro said in translated remarks.

Hit by low oil prices, mismanagement and the impact of US sanctions, Venezuela is in freefall and Maduro is seeking support from allies after winning a second term in a controversial vote last year.

Most of the international community did not recognise the results of those polls.

Washington has thrown its weight behind a campaign to oust the socialist president and supported self-declared interim leader Juan Guaido.

A handful of countries led by Russia and China have staunchly defended Maduro.