European Union nations get behind Venezuela's Juan Guaido as acting president

European Union nations get behind Venezuela's Juan Guaido as acting president

"I told him that I serve Christ's cause... and in this spirit I asked for his help, in a process of facilitating and strengthening dialogue", said Maduro, who has rejected calls for snap presidential elections.

France, Spain, Germany, Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands's coordinated move came after the expiry of an eight-day ultimatum for Mr Maduro to call a new election.

The 14-nation so-called Lima Group, which includes Canada and Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico but not the United States, met in Ottawa to discuss the way forward on Venezuela.

Around 1 million people resident in Venezuela also possess a European passport, Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told a news conference in Lisbon.

Italy blocked a draft European Union statement that would have made it clear that recognition was a national prerogative.

The 35-year-old Guaido, head of the country's National Assembly, has breathed new life into a previously fractured and tired opposition.

Multiple countries have recently recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim president after many refused to recognize Maduro's election in 2018, calling it illegitimate.

Critics of Maduro blame the Venezuelan government's mismanagement for the lack of food and medical supplies.

But he stopped short of breaking off diplomatic relations with the 16 European countries that recognized his rival Monday, unlike his swift move to cut off ties with the US after it threw its support behind Guaido last month.

Guaido on Twitter expressed his gratitude to the European Union leaders for supporting Venezuela's fight for freedom.

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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 past year [in Venezuela]".

Mr Maduro has ignored this call.

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

Trump warned that military intervention remains "an option" for dealing with the crisis in Venezuela.

Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse and the exodus of millions of Venezuelans, said in an interview that aired on Spanish television channel Antena 3 on Sunday: "We don't accept ultimatums from anyone", adding: "I refuse to call for elections now - there will be elections in 2024".

But David Lipton, the No. 2 at the International Monetary Fund, called Venezuela's economic crisis - marked by widespread food shortages, protracted hyperinflation and the loss of human capital through emigration - an "unprecedented economic storm" that will required generous, broad-based international support to overcome.

"For this reason, we don't back Maduro as well".

Russian Federation and China, who have poured billions of dollars of investment and loans into Venezuela, are supporting Mr Maduro in an extension of their geopolitical tussle with the United States.

Thousands of Venezuelans living in Argentina, opposed to President Nicolas Maduro, hold a demonstration in Buenos Aires in support of opposition leader Juan Guaido's self-appointment as acting president of Venezuela, on January 23, 2019. Madrid was among those to endorse Guaido as the "legitimate leader" of Venezuela.

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