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Venezuelan opposition candidate says he will sit out 'national dialogue' with president

Monday - 2/24/2014, 9:10pm  ET

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- The opposition presidential candidate in Venezuela's last election says he's not attending a meeting billed as a "national dialogue" for local and state officials convened today, following recent clashes between opposition demonstrators and government forces that have left at least 12 people dead in the past two weeks.

Gov. Henrique Capriles says now isn't the time for him to sit down with President Nicolas Maduro. He says his attendance would amount to an endorsement of what he calls a "repressive" government. Capriles also said he would not participate while another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, remains jailed along with dozens of others who have taken part in anti-government protests.

Capriles did not say whether he would also sit out a national peace conference called by the president for Wednesday.

Opposition protesters erected barricades across major streets in Caracas and elsewhere Monday, but there were no major clashes.

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APPHOTO ABD108: Motorcyclists waving Venezuelan flags attend a rally in support of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Since Feb. 12, opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have been staging countrywide protests that the government says have resulted in scores of deaths and more than one hundred injuries. The demonstrators blame Maduro's administration for the country's high crime rate and economic troubles. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (24 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO ABD109: People gather next to a barricade with a sign that reads in Spanish: "He who gives up, loses" in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Since Feb. 12, opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have been staging countrywide protests that the government says have resulted in scores of deaths and more than one hundred injuries. The demonstrators blame Maduro's administration for the country's high crime rate and economic troubles. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (24 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO ABD104: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro cheers during a motorcycle rally organized in support of his government, in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Since Feb. 12, opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have been staging countrywide protests that the government says have resulted in scores of deaths and more than one hundred injuries. The demonstrators blame Maduro's administration for the country's high crime rate and economic troubles. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (24 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO XFLL107: A pedestrian walks in front of a burning barricade blocking the highway in Chacao, Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Traffic has come to a halt in parts of the Venezuelan capital because of barricades set up by opposition protesters across major thoroughfares. The protests are part of a wave of anti-government demonstrations that have swept Venezuela since Feb. 12 and have resulted in at least 10 deaths. The protests in the capital Monday were peaceful. Police and National Guard troops stood by but did not act to remove the barricades despite the effect on the morning commute. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (24 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO XFLL103: Demonstrators join hands to block the highway at Altamira neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. The banner over their heads reads in Spanish "We are all Venezuela". Traffic has come to a halt in parts of the Venezuelan capital because of barricades set up by opposition protesters across major thoroughfares. The protests are part of a wave of anti-government demonstrations that have swept Venezuela since Feb. 12 and have resulted in at least 10 deaths. The protests in the capital Monday were peaceful. Police and National Guard troops stood by but did not act to remove the barricades despite the effect on the morning commute. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (24 Feb 2014)

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