EU envoy in Venezuela seeks way out of crisis

CARACAS (AA): Venezuela’s foreign minister has received a top EU envoy to discuss the ongoing political crisis in the country and seek a democratic resolution. On Twitter late Wednesday, Jorge Arreaza called his meeting in Caracas, the capital, with Veronique Lorenzo, the EU South American division head, on behalf of foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, “extensive” and “interesting.”

“Constitution in hand, we are analyzing the reality of Venezuela and the need for a sovereign national dialogue, without conditions,” he added. Their meeting came days after most of the EU member states recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, upping the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro. The meeting was reportedly meant to promote a peaceful political process in the country, in addition to a democratic solution to the current impasse.

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition. Tensions climbed on Jan. 23 when Guaido declared himself interim president, but Maduro has so far refused calls to step down. He has accused the US of orchestrating a coup against his government and said he is open to dialogue with the opposition. The US has led an international campaign to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Maduro, including sanctioning the country’s state-owned oil company and a joint venture with its Nicaraguan counterpart. Russia, China, and Iran have put their weight behind Maduro, as has Turkey.