The agreement includes the release of a businessman close to Maduro (right), and Biden confirms that his citizens detained in Venezuela are returning (Getty Images)

The US administration praised Qatar's role in mediating between the United States and Venezuela over two years, which on Wednesday resulted in an agreement between the two sides to exchange prisoners.

A senior official in President Joe Biden's administration said, "We are grateful for Qatar's efforts, which facilitated talks between Venezuelan authorities and U.S. officials to pave the way for competitive elections in 2024 and the return of Americans unjustly detained there."

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U.S. officials said on Wednesday that the United States and Venezuela had reached an agreement to release 10 American prisoners in exchange for the release of a close associate of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. In a statement, the US president confirmed that his 10 citizens were "returning home."

U.S. officials have previously said Washington would release businessman Alex Saab, who is accused of laundering money for Maduro.

A senior Venezuelan source said Maduro's government would release 36 people, including 12 Americans, in exchange for the U.S. government freeing one of Maduro's allies.

The source added that Maduro's ally is Colombian businessman Alex Saab, who U.S. prosecutors say embezzled about $350 million from Venezuela via the United States, in a scheme that included bribing Venezuelan government officials, while Saab denies the accusation.

Among those released are 20 Venezuelans linked to the opposition who have been detained for some time, in addition to 4 others who participated either in the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Maria Corina Machado or in organizing the opposition primary elections held last October, the source said.

Source: Agencies