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Venezuela Swaps 7 Jailed Americans for Maduro Relatives


This undated file photo posted on Twitter on June 18, 2020, by Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, shows CITGO oil executives Jose Angel Pereira, from left, Gustavo Cardenas, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano, Tomeu Vadell and Alirio Jose Zambrano, outside the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, in Caracas, Venezuela.

This undated file photo posted on Twitter on June 18, 2020, by Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, shows CITGO oil executives Jose Angel Pereira, from left, Gustavo Cardenas, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano, Tomeu Vadell and Alirio Jose Zambrano, outside the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, in Caracas, Venezuela.

Source: Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry/AP Photo

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Washington (AP) -- In a rare softening of hostile relations, Venezuela freed on Saturday seven imprisoned Americans in exchange for the United States releasing two nephews of President Nicolás Maduro’s wife who had been jailed for years on narcotics convictions.

The swap of the Americans, including five oil executives held for nearly five years, follows months of back channel diplomacy by senior U.S. officials — secretive talks with a major oil producer that took on greater urgency after sanctions on Russia put pressure on global energy prices.