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Venezuela releases 2 U.S. prisoners after Maduro meeting with U.S. envoys

President Biden confirmed Tuesday night that Venezuela has released two imprisoned Americans following a rare visit by a high-level U.S. delegation last weekend. The men released were Gustavo Cárdenas, an executive at the American branch of Venezuela's state oil company, and Jorge Alberto Fernández. The American officials met with the South American nation's authoritarian president, Nicolás Maduro, to discuss resuming U.S. purchases of Venezuelan oil to replace U.S. imports of Russian oil, which Biden banned on Tuesday.

Biden administration officials said the prisoner release was not part of any developing deal to restart Venezuelan oil imports, which were banned under the Trump administration. Venezuela is Russia's staunchest ally in the Western Hemisphere, and the United Nations has accused Maduro's government of human rights violations.