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Venezuela's Maduro rejects European Union ultimatum on fresh elections

Venezuela's Maduro rejects European Union ultimatum on fresh elections

Venezuela has defused a potential showdown with the United States by suspending a demand that us diplomats leave the country even as Washington called on the world to "pick a side" in the South American nation's fast-moving crisis. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US.

His comments came as the United States recognized Juan Guaido, an opposition leader, as the legitimate head of state instead of Nicolas Maduro, who has overseen a devastating economic crisis over the past few years.

Sisulu said Maduro was the democratically-elected president and South Africa recognises him.

A source in Caracas said that Maduro feared that USA troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan and Syria, they could be well-suited for redeployment in a Colombia-based conflict with Venezuela.

Guaido proclaimed himself interim president on January 23, though Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013 and has the support of the armed forces, has refused to stand down.

Russian Federation also said military intervention in Venezuela should be avoided at any cost, while Caracas reiterated that its offer of dialogue with President Donald Trump's government was still on the table despite his administration's two-year campaign against Maduro.

It follows similar declarations by the US, Britain, Germany and France.

But Russia's government, which backs Maduro and has previously supplied tanks to Venezuela, today denied the claims.

Earlier Venezuela's military attache to Washington Jose Luis Silva broke ranks with Maduro and urged his "brothers in the military" to bcak Guaido.

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Russia, China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea also blocked a USA push for a U.N. Security Council statement expressing full support for Venezuela's National Assembly as the country's "only democratically elected institution".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement Sunday saying Israel was joining "the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela".

"It's time to be on the side of the Constitution", he said.

Evidence of deep fissures happening within Venezuela's touted military began seeping up from below during the Security Council meeting.

"We hope the country that accuses others can do likewise itself", Ma told the council.

The US has pushed for Guaido to be recognised‚ taking the matter urgently to be discussed in the security council later on Saturday in NY.

"We want to get across a message that Canada, America and all the other countries that are taking this position must respect the sovereignty of countries, they can not interfere in the internal affairs of countries", she said.

The opposition leader also said he would consider amnesty for Mr Maduro and his allies if they don't hamper his ascension to temporary power.

"Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you're in league with Maduro and his mayhem", Pompeo said at an emergency meeting of the 15-member U.N. Security Council Saturday called by the United States. Last week, a small National Guard unit stole a stockpile of weapons in what it said was an attempt to oust Maduro.


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