National security adviser H.R. McMaster discussed the "ongoing crisis" in Venezuela with opposition leader Julio Borges at the White House on Friday, according to the Trump administration.
A statement from the White House on Saturday says the conversation focused on the "need for the government to adhere to the Venezuelan Constitution, release political prisoners, respect the National Assembly, and hold free and democratic elections."
Political unrest has overtaken the South American country where the economy has been hit by tremendous inflation and its citizens are suffering from widespread food and medicine shortages as well as human rights abuses. The recent wave of violent protests was sparked by the Venezuela's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, after he called for a popular assembly to rewrite the country's constitution. Critics say the move is an attempt to consolidate his power.
Borges, president of the country's National Assembly, has urged resistance against Maduro. "This is a scam to deceive the Venezuelan people with a mechanism that is nothing more than a coup," Borges recently said, according to Reuters.
Further igniting conflict was the country's supreme court decision in March to strip the opposition-led General Assembly of its powers. That decision was rolled back in short order, but served as fuel for the latest string of protests.
Last week it was reported that the U.S. was weighing new sanctions against Venezuela's in response to Maduro's call for a new draft of the constitution.
The White House said McMaster and Borges "agreed that there is a strong need to bring the crisis to a quick and peaceful conclusion."