The Associated Press (AP) is reporting that the U.S. has made secret contact with Venezuela's socialist party boss as close allies of President Nicolás Maduro's inner circle seek guarantees they will not face prosecution for alleged abuses and crimes if they cede to growing demands to remove him.
AP says the information came from a senior Trump administration official.
The official says Diosdado Cabello, who is considered the most powerful man in Venezuela after Maduro, met last month in Caracas with someone who is in close contact with the Trump administration.
A second meeting is reportedly in the works but has not yet taken place.
The AP is withholding the intermediary's name and details of the encounter with Cabello out of concern the person could suffer reprisals.
It is not clear whether the talks have Maduro's approval.
The AP says Cabello did not immediately respond to a request for comment.