Russia's Putin hosts Venezuelan leader Maduro for talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting Venezuela's leader in Moscow amid the ongoing political crisis in the South American nation

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday reiterated his support for his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, who has made a surprise visit to Moscow.

Maduro's arrival comes a day after U.S. President Donald Trump denounced Maduro in his speech to the United Nations.

Russia has been one of Maduro's closest allies as the country has slid into economic and political turmoil, supporting his administration with generous loans.

"Russia has been an unwavering supporter of all legitimate authorities in Venezuela including the president," Putin said.

Neither leader spoke about any further financial aid for Venezuela, though Putin said that Russia intends to maintain its cooperation with Venezuela in energy, healthcare and food supplies.

Maduro has in recent days sought to smooth relations with opposition parties to reshape Venezuela's electoral council, which oversees the conduct of elections in the country, and other reforms after talks with rival Venezuelan leader Juan Guaido broke down.

On Tuesday, Socialist party lawmakers ended their two-year boycott of Venezuela's legislature in a bid to renew their influence in the last branch of federal government still controlled by the opposition.

The development poses a new challenge for Guaido, who the opposition has vowed to continue recognizing as Venezuela's legitimate president even after his term as the leader of congress expires early next year.