US reviewing Venezuelan sanctions policy in wake of court decision - State Dept

(Reuters) -The U.S. is reviewing its sanctions policy against Venezuela after a court in that country upheld a ban preventing presidential candidate Maria Corina Machado from holding office, the U.S. State Department said on Saturday.

The ruling by Venezuela's Supreme Justice Tribunal on Friday means Machado, a 56-year-old industrial engineer, cannot register her candidacy for presidential elections scheduled for the second half of 2024.

"The United States is currently reviewing our Venezuela sanctions policy, based on this development and the recent political targeting of democratic opposition candidates and civil society," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

The U.S. eased economically debilitating oil sanctions on the crude-exporting country in October after President Nicolas Maduro's government signed a deal with the opposition under which Caracas made commitments to hold a free and fair 2024 presidential election.

Miller said the court ruling was a "deeply concerning decision" that ran contrary to the commitments made by Maduro to allow all parties to select candidates.

Maduro on Thursday said the deal with his opponents was in danger of collapse, citing what he has described as "conspiracies" against him.

Gerardo Blyde, head of the opposition negotiating team, denied members had been linked to acts of violence and demanded the court ruling be reversed.

"We are not asking for sanctions, that is not our job. We are looking for the process to move forward," he told a news conference in Caracas on Saturday.

At a separate press conference in Caracas, a representative for the government's negotiating team insisted the ruling party would remain in the talks.

"We will never hesitate to remain in the talks, to remain in the discussion," said Hector Rodriguez, the ruling party governor for Venezuela's Miranda state. He said the government had complied with all prior agreements.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Aida Pelaez-Fernandez in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Oliver Griffin in BogotaEditing by Diane Craft and David Gregorio)