Germany: Venezuela needs fair, free elections or Guaido should be interim leader

With Venezuela convulsed by crisis, Trump's hawks take dramatic turn

Domestically, attention has been on Venezuela's military, a traditional arbiter of political disputes in the country, as a critical indicator of whether the opposition will succeed in establishing a new government.

Maduro told Putin his assessment of the situation in Venezuela and thanked the Russian leader for his stance.

France and Britain are the latest countries Thursday to throw their weight behind the popular street protests seeking to force Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro to step aside, dubbing the embattled Latin American ruler "illegitimate".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced solidarity with Maduro early Thursday, a day after Washington recognized Guaido as the interim leader of Venezuela. "And how would the existing United States president react?" There has not been a USA ambassador in Venezuela since.

The constitutionality of Guaido's move is unclear.

"Don't trust the gringos", he said, adding they only have "the ambition to take Venezuela's oil, gas and gold".

Guaido's father, who has lived in Spain for the last 16 years, has called on the military to drop its allegiance to Maduro.

Other experts question whether Canada's approach could do more harm than good.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was planning Thursday to phone Guaido after holding urgent talks with Latin American leaders in Davos at this year's World Economic Forum.

From then on, countries in the region realized they had a partner in the US willing to tackle a crisis that had been years in the making but which previous USA administrations had chosen to play down because of limited national security implications, said Fernando Cutz, a former senior national security adviser on Latin America to both President Barack Obama and Trump.

And in a thinly veiled swipe at Mr Corbyn, he added: 'But for anyone in the United Kingdom who thinks that Venezuela is an example, who thinks that we should be adopting the policies supported by the discredited Maduro regime, they need to look at their TV screens and think again.

"The issue of foreign invasion is not raised by us".

Many people, he said, were wondering whether the administration had more ideas in mind on "how to go forward".

The avalanche of support for Juan Guaido dramatically raised the stakes in Venezuela, an oil-rich nation that has become deeply impoverished under Nicolas Maduro. But there has been growing frustration within the administration that more was needed.

What will this mean for Venezuela's deep economic and political crisis?

"The president's instincts have always been to do the strongest possible action (against Venezuela) that doesn't undermine the cohesion of this multilateral approach", Rubio told Reuters.

And China's foreign ministry called on the United States to stay out of the crisis.

Although it stopped short of following Washington and recognizing Guaido as interim president, it called on the authorities in Venezuela to respect his "civil rights, freedom and safety" and appeared to support calls for a peaceful transition of power away from Maduro. Brazil was one of the first countries to recognize Guaido.

The agency also advised all American citizens to "strongly consider" departing Venezuela. Claver-Carone is known as a hardliner on communist Cuba and outspoken critic of former President Barack Obama's rapprochement with Havana.

U.S. President Donald Trump has refused to withdraw the diplomats on grounds that he doesn't acknowledge Maduro as legitimate and because Guaido has asked them to remain. The State Department said it would not comment on staffing levels.

Earlier, American diplomats left the US embassy in Caracas in a convoy of sport utility vehicles and with a police escort en route to the airport, according to a Reuters witness.

The Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., has suggested USA involvement in Venezuela's political chaos was created to distract Americans from the ongoing partial government shutdown, while Moscow has warned American leaders against military action in the embattled South American nation.

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