United Nations' Chief To Meet With Venezuela's Foreign Minister Over Protests

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VENEZUELA FOREIGN MINISTER
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua speaks during a press conference at the Venezuelan embassy in Brasilia, on February 28, 2014. Jaua is visiting countries members of the South American trade bloc Mercosur -- which includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, and, since 2012, Venezuela -- and which have recently issued statements expressing concern over the unrest in Venezuela, rejecting violence, and calling for a peaceful resolution to the country's political crisis. AFP PHOTO / Evari | EVARISTO SA via Getty Images
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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will meet Monday in Geneva with Venezuela's foreign minister, who also will speak to the U.N. Human Rights Council about the recent weeks of violent student-led protests in his country.

Spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed Ban's meeting with Foreign Minister Elias Jaua.

Venezuela's U.N. ambassador, Jorge Valero, told Venezuelan radio station Noticias 24 on Saturday that Ban had invited Jaua to meet.

"It will be an opportunity for the foreign minister to explain to the secretary-general of the U.N. how this government has been advancing the peace process and what measures are being taken so that Venezuela recovers from these disturbances, from these violent acts," he said.

Valero also said Jaua would explain to the Human Rights Council his government's efforts to "promote dialogue" to end the unrest.

The U.N. human rights chief called Friday for the Venezuelan government to respect peaceful assemblies and expressed concern about the use of excessive force against protesters.

One of the opposition's highest profile leaders, former Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, tweeted Saturday: "We also ask to be allowed to report on the actual situation, NO official bias!"

The opposition refuses to open a dialogue until President Nicolas Maduro releases protesters from jail and stops harsh crackdowns on protests.

Venezuelans face inflation that hit 56 percent last year, scarce basic necessities and runaway violent crime.

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Associated Press writer Frank Bajak in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed.

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