Mexico offers to host Venezuela rivals for crisis talks

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AFP |

Mexico is prepared to host President Nicolas Maduro and his opposition rival, self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, for talks to resolve Venezuela’s spiraling crisis, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday.

Lopez Obrador, whose government still recognizes Maduro as Venezuelan president — unlike several other Latin American powers and the United States — said the Mexican foreign ministry was ready to host talks for a “peaceful solution” if both parties were willing.

Mexico has taken a hands-off approach to the Venezuelan crisis since Lopez Obrador, a leftist, took office in December.

“We couldn’t carry this out without a request from both sides… (but) we are more than willing to help facilitate a dialogue, without the use of force or violence, to resolve the problems” Venezuela is facing, he told a news conference. Maduro said Thursday he was open to holding talks to resolve the crisis and was ready to meet Guaido.

But the opposition leader has ruled that out for now, saying the leftist leader cannot be trusted. Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s legislature, declared himself acting president on Wednesday, saying Maduro’s re-election was illegitimate.

Read more: China, Russia side with Maduro as US backs Venezuela challenger

The socialist leader, who has presided over a painful political and economic crisis, was sworn in for a new six-year term on January 10, after winning an election that was boycotted by the opposition and condemned by the United States and a dozen Latin American countries.

Lopez Obrador, whose government still recognizes Maduro as Venezuelan president — unlike several other Latin American powers and the United States.

The US, Canada, Britain and a string of regional countries have recognized Guaido as president. Mexico is the biggest Latin American player that still recognizes Maduro, together with Russia and China. Mexico has taken a hands-off approach to the Venezuelan crisis since Lopez Obrador, a leftist, took office in December.

It was the only member of the so-called Lima Group of 14 regional countries not to sign a statement earlier this month calling on Maduro to step down rather than begin a new term.

Read more: Venezuelan military: the muscle behind Maduro

However, Lopez Obrador’s government has not given Maduro the unbending support of leftist allies such as Cuba and Nicaragua, calling instead — in a joint statement with Uruguay — for all parties to “reduce tensions” and hold an “inclusive and credible negotiation process.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called Thursday for talks, saying Venezuela needs to “avoid an escalation that would lead to the kind of conflict that would be a disaster for the people of Venezuela and for the region.”

© Agence France-Presse

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