CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) " A top U.S. diplomat is calling his visit to Venezuela productive and says he hopes international players will be able to facilitate dialogue between the country's socialist government and its opposition.

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon visited Venezuela this week as the South American nation sinks deeper into a social and economic crisis. Venezuela has been wracked by protests over food shortages, inflation is soaring, and the opposition is pushing for recall election to remove President Nicolas Maduro this year.

Shannon met with both Maduro and opposition leaders. In a Friday statement from Washington, Shannon said he thought the visit was a good "first step."

He says he hopes all sides will work together to address "some of the very significant crises that Venezuela faces now."