EU-backed group: Go slow on Venezuela


Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, right, and Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa attend a news conference in Montevideo on Thursday.

Reuters MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) — European and Latin American leaders gathered on Thursday in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo to discuss a plan to solve the deepening crisis in Venezuela, while urging the global community to back away from direct intervention.

The EU-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela opened its inaugural meeting with calls for a more hands-off approach than that advocated by the United States and some other Latin American nations.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the group was pushing for a peaceful and political solution to the crisis, adding that a resolution must ultimately come from the people of Venezuela.

“This is not only the most desirable result but is the only result if we want to avoid more suffering and a chaotic process,” she said alongside Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez.

The Uruguay meeting comes on the heels of a separate meeting of the harder-line Lima Group in Canada, which called for international action to pressure socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

An economic collapse under Maduro, marked by widespread shortages of food and medicine and hyperinflation, has prompted some 3 million people to flee Venezuela and forced nations around the world to clarify their stance on the crisis, particularly after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president last month.

Maduro was reelected to a new six-year term as president last May, but the election was widely condemned as a fraud.

A flood of EU nations including Germany, France and Britain have joined the United States, Canada and a group of Latin American countries in recognizing Guaido as the rightful interim ruler of the South American nation.

But others remain wary about direct involvement — including some participants at the ICG meeting.

On the eve of the meeting, Mexico, Uruguay and a grouping of Caribbean countries presented a plan for Venezuela, titled the “Montevideo Mechanism,” that proposes to find a peaceful solution that will prevent an “escalation of violence.”Speech

Reuters CUCUTA, Colombia/TIENDITAS, Venezuela (Reuters) — Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for crisis-stricken Venezuela arrived in the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Thursday as diplomatically isolated President Nicolas Maduro appeared set to block its entry amid an escalating political crisis.

The arrival of the aid convoy, which includes supplies provided by the United States, has increased the pressure on Maduro hours after a European Union-backed group called for dialog and elections and warned against interventionism.Speech

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