(CNN) — A US delegation quietly traveled to Venezuela “to discuss the welfare and safety of US citizens in Venezuela,” a State Department spokesperson told CNN on Monday. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens and US Ambassador Jimmy Story, who heads the Venezuelan Affairs Unit, traveled to Caracas about a week after Matthew Heath, an American illegally detained there, tried to commit suicide. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro acknowledged the delegation’s visit, which was first reported by The Associated Press, in a televised address Monday. “While we talk, [el presidente de la Asamblea Nacional] Jorge Rodríguez receives a delegation from the US government that arrived in Venezuela a couple of hours ago, and is working to maintain the talks that we started in March and the bilateral agenda between the US and Venezuela, Maduro said . “He is in a meeting with them at this very time.” Jonathan Franks, a spokesman for Matthew Heath’s family, said Monday that “if true, the reports of SPEHA Carstens’ trip to Caracas are an encouraging sign, both for Matthew and for the many Americans being held hostage in Venezuela, with whom the Heath family stands shoulder to shoulder.” “Matthew’s situation remains dire and the family reiterates their request to Presidents Biden and Maduro to organize an emergency medical evacuation,” Franks said. “We are concerned that once authorities remove the heavy sedation, Matthew will take the first opportunity he gets to attempt suicide again.” Heath is one of at least eight Americans currently known to be wrongfully detained in Venezuela. In addition to Heath, five of the six US oil executives known collectively as the “Citgo 6” (Tomeu Vadell, Jorge Toledo, Alirio José Zambrano, José Luis Zambrano and José Ángel Pereira) who were arrested in Venezuela more than four years ago and remain detained there, as were Americans Luke Denman and Airan Berry. Two Americans who had been detained there, including one of the Citgo 6, were released in March following a visit by two top US government officials to Caracas. In December 2021, Carstens traveled to Venezuela and was able to meet with American detainees there.
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