EU calls on Venezuela rivals to resume talks

The High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Policy, Federica Mogherini, delivers statements to the press during the first meeting of the International Contact Group on the Venezuela crisis, in Montevideo, Uruguay, 07 February 2019. [EPA-EFE/RAUL MARTINEZ]

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urged the Venezuelan government and opposition Wednesday (11 September) to return to the negotiating table to seek a way out of the South American country’s protracted crisis.

President Nicolas Maduro called off talks with the opposition last month in response to new US sanctions against his government, prolonging a deadlock with his rival, self-declared acting president Juan Guaido.

Mogherini said she was “encouraged” in May when the conflicting sides began holding talks mediated by Norway, and called on them to return to the table.

“Talking is always better than fighting… We hope that this can be resumed soon,” she said in Mexico City, her second stop on a three-country Latin American tour focused largely on Venezuela.

“I believe there is no interest for anyone in exacerbating divisions, in exacerbating economic problems for the country.”

Mogherini said any deal would have to include a “democratic outcome, with new presidential elections, international observers, rights for everybody to take part in the democratic definition of the future of the country.”

Maduro has presided over a disastrous political and economic crisis in Venezuela since taking over from late leftist leader Hugo Chavez in 2013.

He was re-elected to a second term last year, in a vote boycotted by the opposition and rejected by much of the international community.

Guaido, the speaker of the opposition-controlled legislature, tried to seize power in January, declaring himself acting president and saying Maduro’s re-election was illegitimate.

However, despite the backing of more than 50 countries, including the United States, he has not managed to wrest control from Maduro.

An apparent coup attempt in April fizzled, leaving the crisis in a prolonged stalemate.

Mogherini will step down on 1 November after five years as the European Union’s top diplomat.

She said her successor, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, was also keenly interested in finding a way out of the Venezuelan crisis.

During his term as foreign minister, Borrell’s relations with the US have been strained since he publicly accused the Trump administration of behaving ‘like a cowboy’ in dealing with the political crisis in the South American country.

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