Venezuelan President Maduro to visit Turkey, meet Erdogan

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FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during an event at Miraflores Palace, in Caracas
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CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will pay a two-day official visit to Turkey beginning on Tuesday, the Turkish government said.

Maduro has repeatedly said he will visit Turkey, one of a handful of countries globally with whom he maintains ties amidst stiff sanctions by the United States.

"All aspects of Turkey-Venezuela relations will be reviewed and steps to enhance the relations will be discussed during the visit," the Turkish government said in a statement posted on its English-language website, adding the visit is at the invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "The two leaders are expected to exchange views on regional and global matters as well."

Turkey has since 2018 increased its exports to Venezuela, including food and personal hygiene products. The South American country has in turn sold gold to Turkey, though the amount is not public.

In April the two countries signed seven agreements during a visit to Venezuela by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

They offered no details on the deals on oil, gas, tourism, sports and other areas.

Cavusoglu has said he wants trade between the two countries to reach $1.5 billion annually, up from some $850 million currently.

Maduro faced harsh criticism from his country's opposition when he and wife Cilia Flores dined on expensive steak at a "Salt Bae" restaurant in Istanbul, during a 2018 stop-off while returning from a visit to China.

His rivals said Maduro was flaunting what they say is ill-gotten wealth at the restaurant, owned by celebrity chef Nusret Gokce, while many Venezuelans struggle daily to find enough to eat.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera,; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Chris Reese)

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