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Venezuelan President Meets Jewish Leaders To Smooth Rocky Relations

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro welcomed Jewish leaders at the governmental palace to strengthen cooperation.

Ties between the government and the Jewish community have been rocky.

“A good day of dialog for peace. Boosting the co-existence and the dialog of civilizations, of religions to consolidate our nation,” Maduro tweeted after the Tuesday meeting in Caracas, which was also attended by foreign affairs minister Delcy Rodriguez.

The Jewish delegation was led by Rabbi Isaac Cohen, spiritual leader of the Asociacion Israelita de Venezuela, which represents the country’s Sephardic community. Members of the country’s umbrella Jewish organization, the Confederacion de Asociaciones Israelitas de Venezuela, also attended.

According to the state-owned Telesur channel, which distributed the news to all other media outlets, the meetings were intended to “strengthen the cooperation and fraternity ties” with the Jewish community.

Anti-Semitic rhetoric was often employed by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s political godfather.

Venezuela is home to some 9,000 Jews, down from about 25,000 in 1999. Many Jews left, mainly for Florida and Israel, due to a deteriorating financial and social climate.

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