Nine EU states recognise Guaido as Venezuela's president, increasing pressure on Maduro

UK recognises Juan Guaido as interim President of Venezuela

European Union states have been debating for days how to address the Venezuela crisis, with ten countries recognising the opposition leader after the expiry of a deadline for President Nicolas Maduro to call a new election.

Already recognised by the United States, Canada, Australia and several Latin American countries, Guaido is trying to force the socialist leader from power so he can set up a transitional government and hold new elections.

"I sent a letter to Pope Francis", Maduro told Italy's SkyTG24 television in an interview broadcast on Monday, with opposition leader Juan Guaido gaining more global support.

"Individual EU Member States will acknowledge Mr. Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly, as President ad interim of Venezuela", the proposed joint statement said, calling for "free, fair and democratic presidential elections".

Guaido says up to 300,000 people are "at risk of death" in Venezuela for want of humanitarian aid.

Asked in Brussels on Monday whether Ireland would follow other major European Union nations in recognising him, Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters: "No, our position has been clear".

In a taped interview that aired on CBS News, US President Donald Trump said that military action in Venezuela against Maduro remains "an option".

"They gave us an ultimatum, as if Venezuela was being governed from Madrid", said Maduro, who was addressing troops Monday on the 27th anniversary of the failed military uprising that thrust his political mentor, the late Hugo Chavez, onto the national stage.

He added that Venezuela is being "threatened by the biggest powers in the world". The move further sidelines the authoritarian government of Nicolas Maduro, which has been declared illegitimate by Canada and many of its allies.

Here is a summary of whom key players are backing, after Guaido declared himself acting president on January 23 in defiance of the leftist Maduro.

Guaido repeatedly has called on Venezuela's military, which has remained loyal to Maduro, to support a transition to democracy. Trump said on Sunday, February 3, that the U.S. army's intervention in Venezuela was "an option".

The PM's spokesman said: "Venezuelan people deserve a better future".

Mexico and Uruguay had hoped that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would attend a conference in Montevideo on Thursday aimed at promoting dialogue between Venezuela's self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido and leader Nicolas Maduro.

The UK takes this position alongside the Organisation of American States, the Lima Group, the United States and European partners. The European Parliament has called on all EU countries to do so.

President Maduro described a potential military confrontation with the United States as "David against Goliath" struggle - one that Trump would regret.

But David Lipton, the No. 2 at the International Monetary Fund, called Venezuela's economic crisis - marked by widespread food shortages, protracted hyperinflation and the loss of human capital through emigration - an "unprecedented economic storm" that will required generous, broad-based international support to overcome.

Critics of Maduro blame the Venezuelan government's mismanagement for the lack of food and medical supplies.

If all European countries follow in the footsteps of the Trump Administration, their decision to recognise Guaido could potentially cut the Venezuelan Government off from any accounts or assets in those countries.

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