European nations back Venezuelan opposition leader

UK recognises Juan Guaido as interim President of Venezuela

UK recognises Juan Guaido as interim President of Venezuela

Global clamor for snap elections in Venezuela intensified Monday as European powers recognized opposition chief Juan Guaido as interim leader, after Nicolas Maduro rejected an ultimatum to call new polls.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Hunt said the move followed the failure of Nicolas Maduro to call new presidential elections after being set a deadline to do so.

Italy is not alone in opposing recognising Guaido.

Claiming his legitimacy from the constitution, the 35-year-old National Assembly leader stunned the world when he proclaimed himself interim president on January 23, setting up a tense standoff with Maduro - with both men heading rival massive street rallies in Caracas on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels after a meeting of European Union foreign affairs ministers, top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini said that "the EU and its member states never recognised as legitimate the presidential elections that were held a year ago [in Venezuela]".

"The worldwide community's goal should be to help (Venezuela), without destructive meddling from beyond its borders", Alexander Shchetinin, head of the Latin America department at Russia's Foreign Ministry, told Interfax.

"The oppression of the illegitimate, kleptocratic Maduro regime must end", he said.

In power since former President Hugo Chavez's death in 2013, Maduro has been accused by critics of running the OPEC nation of 30 million people like a dictatorship.

But he has presided over an economic collapse and exodus of 3 million Venezuelans. He cautioned that a potential war could mean a new "Vietnam" for Washington.

"European sovereignty is born of Member States' national sovereignty and does not replace it. Sharing sovereignty-when and where needed-makes each of our States and nations stronger", Juncker said.

He won re-election previous year, but critics say it was a sham.

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Having said that about what the president did. "I think there's a good chance that will have to do that", Mr. Sulzberger, asking him if he would join him for an off-the-record dinner - an offer Sulzberger declined.

"If someday there'll be a coup; if there'll be a United States intervention of Venezuela, then, Senior Pedro Sanchez, your hands will be stained in blood forever and history will remember you as a puppet in service of Donald Trump's policy of interference", President Maduro said in an address, broadcast live on his Twitter page.

Guaido lost no time Monday in building on broadened worldwide support, with his fledgling alternative administration announcing February 14 talks in Washington on responding to "the largest hemispheric humanitarian crisis in modern history".

Millions have been left in poverty, while 2.3 million more have fled the country, unleashing a migration crisis in South America.

In 2019, the International Monetary Fund predicts that Venezuela's inflation will reach 10 million per cent, and an update to its World Economic Outlook in October estimated that consumer prices in the country would rise by 1,370,000 per cent by the end of 2018.

After the cut-off point was reached on Sunday, European capitals began making announcements on Monday morning.

The declaration in the final Lima Group communique from Monday's emergency meeting in Ottawa came two days after the defection of a top air-force general, once loyal to socialist president Nicolas Maduro.

They urged Venezuela's military to support Guaido and "not to impede" the delivery of aid.

"We are in permanent contact with the governments of Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Germany". However, according to diplomatic sources in Brussels, Italy has blocked an EU-wide statement of the bloc's support for Guaido due to conflicting interests within the Italian coalition government.

"We are looking at what further steps we can take to ensure peace and democracy in Venezuela, including through sanctions".

But its governing partner, the League, has backed Mr Guaido. "A lot of those problems are a result of precisely of the economic sanctions levied against Venezuela and the fact that we've seen oil prices crash globally", he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would formally recognise Guaido's chosen envoy as Venezuela's legitimate representative in Canada in a move his government called symbolic.

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