Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said calls to hold early presidential elections amounted to blackmail and that the countries calling for them must wait until 2025, Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Maduro said he was prepared to hold negotiations with the US-backed opposition and added he would support early parliamentary elections.

“I am ready to sit at the negotiation table with the opposition for us to talk for the benefit of Venezuela, for the sake of peace and its future,” Maduro said in an interview with Russia’s state news agency RIA.

Venezuela will meet its financial obligations to Moscow and Beijing, Maduro said.

The comments came a day after Russia said Caracas could have problems servicing its debt to Moscow after Washington imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company.

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for walkouts and protests across on Wednesday.

He urged Venezuelans to step outside their homes and workplaces for two hours beginning at noon in the first mass mobilisation since he declared himself the nation’s rightful leader a week ago during another round of big protests.

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