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Venezuela releases 7 jailed Americans in prisoner swap

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Venezuela frees AmericansIn a rare softening of hostile relations, the White House said Saturday that Venezuela freed seven Americans imprisoned in the country and the United States released two nephews of President Nicholas Maduro's wife who had been jailed for years on drug smuggling convictions.

The swap of the Americans, including five oil executives held for nearly five years, follows months of back channel diplomacy by Washington’s top hostage negotiator and other U.S. officials – secretive talks with a major oil producer that took on greater urgency after sanctions on Russia put pressure on global energy prices.

"These individuals will soon be reunited with their families and back in the arms of their loved ones where they belong," President Joe Biden said in a statement.

"Today, after years of being wrongfully detained in Venezuela, we are bringing home" the seven men, whom the president cited by name. "We celebrate that seven families will be whole once more."

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