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In Venezuela Government, opposition agree on agenda for talks

He announced the plan for a "national dialogue" a week ago, after a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (right) shakes hands with opposition spokesman Jesus Torrealba at Vatican-backed talks aimed at settling a deepening political crisis in Caracas on October 30, 2016 play

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (right) shakes hands with opposition spokesman Jesus Torrealba at Vatican-backed talks aimed at settling a deepening political crisis in Caracas on October 30, 2016

(Venezuelan Presidency/AFP)

Venezuela's embattled government and opposition leaders have agreed on an agenda for talks beginning next month aimed at defusing an increasingly tense political crisis, a Catholic church official said early Monday.

Vatican representative Claudio Maria Celli said in statement that the two sides have agreed to a "national dialogue plenary meeting", to be followed by a long-term dialogue on four talking points, in a bid to end months of social upheaval and bitter political division.

Opposition deputies raise their hands while voting to open a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro, during a special session of the National Assembly, on October 25, 2016 in Caracas play

Opposition deputies raise their hands while voting to open a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro, during a special session of the National Assembly, on October 25, 2016 in Caracas

(AFP/File)

The topics outlined in the agenda include: respect for rule of law and government sovereignty; human rights and reconciliation; economic and social affairs; and a timetable for holding elections.

The talks are to commence of November 11, officials said, after a day-long session on the outskirts of Caracas negotiating the framework for the dialogue.

Among those taking part in negotiations setting up next month's dialogue were President Nicolas Maduro and members of the opposition, including Jesus Torrealba, the leader of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) umbrella group.

Sunday's meeting was the first official dialogue between the two sides since the opposition took control of Venezuela's legislature in January.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and Vatican official Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli attend a meeting with opposition leaders in a bid to settle the country's deepening political crisis, in Caracas on October 30, 2016 play

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and Vatican official Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli attend a meeting with opposition leaders in a bid to settle the country's deepening political crisis, in Caracas on October 30, 2016

(AFP)

Since then, Maduro has persistently vowed to resist its efforts to unseat him.

He announced the plan for a "national dialogue" a week ago, after a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

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