Maduro isolated as Latin American nations back Venezuela opposition leader

A demonstrator throws back a gas canister while clashing with security forces during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government and to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez in Tachira, Venezuela, on January 23, 2019. (REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez)
Updated 24 January 2019

Maduro isolated as Latin American nations back Venezuela opposition leader

  • Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself as interim president on Wednesday
  • Longstanding leftist allies Bolivia and Cuba were the only countries in the region to explicitly voice support for Maduro

LIMA, Peru: Most Latin American nations recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president on Wednesday, leaving Nicolas Maduro ever more isolated as he faces unrest at home and threats from the United States.
c as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru backed Guaido.
The United States and Canada also recognized Guaido — the 35-year-old leader of Venezuela’s opposition-dominated National Assembly — as Venezuela’s legitimate ruler.
However, Mexico — once a vocal member of the Lima Group regional bloc created to pressure Maduro to enact democratic reforms — struck a discordant note under new leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, saying it would not take sides and branding support for Guaido a violation of sovereignty.
The telegenic Guaido declared himself Venezuela’s temporary president on Wednesday at a rally that drew hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans. He accused Maduro of usurping power and promised to create a transitional government.
The diplomatic support for Guaido was a striking move in a region where countries tend to refrain from criticizing each other despite their political differences, underscoring how rattled Venezuela’s neighbors have become by its deteriorating situation.
Criticism of Maduro has grown in recent years as his government has sidelined the National Assembly, held widely-questioned elections and overseen an economic crisis that has forced millions of Venezuelans to flee, mostly to other South American countries.
At the same time, right-leaning governments in South America have risen to power in places where Maduro once had allies.
“Argentina will support all efforts toward rebuilding democracy in Venezuela and reestablishing conditions of life worthy of all its citizens,” Argentine President Mauricio Macri said on Twitter on Wednesday.
Macri took office in 2015, replacing Maduro’s former ally Cristina Fernandez.
Maduro called on the military to stay united and severed diplomatic relations with Washington, which he accused of trying to orchestrate a coup with help from its allies in the region.
US President Donald Trump reiterated that “all options are on the table” and his administration signaled potential new sanctions against Venezuela’s vital oil sector.
Mexico said it would still recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate president and called for dialogue.
“Mexico does not form part (of) this attempt to take sides and promote a type of internal intervention,” presidential spokesman Jesus Ramirez said in a broadcast interview.
Under Lopez Obrador, Mexico has returned to its traditional foreign policy of non-intervention.
“We maintain our position of neutrality and non-intervention toward the conflict in Venezuela,” Ramirez said.


Taliban talks resume amid hopes of deal

Updated 22 August 2019

Taliban talks resume amid hopes of deal

  • The disclosure came in a context of ongoing bloodshed in Afghanistan after NATO said two US military personnel were killed Wednesday
  • Washington is hoping to strike an agreement with the Taliban by September 1 — ahead of Afghan polls due the same month

DOHA: The US and the Taliban met in Doha on Thursday, an American source close to the talks said, for potentially decisive dialogue to allow Washington to drawdown militarily in Afghanistan.
The source said the talks started around 1300 GMT — the ninth time the two foes have met face-to-face.
The disclosure came in a context of ongoing bloodshed in Afghanistan after NATO said two US military personnel were killed Wednesday, blasts rocked Jalalabad Monday, and the death toll from a weekend wedding bombing reached 80.
Washington’s top commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller was at the talks venue, according to an AFP correspondent.
The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the insurgent group renouncing Al-Qaeda and curbing attacks.
Washington is hoping to strike an agreement with the Taliban by September 1 — ahead of Afghan polls due the same month, and US presidential polls due in 2020.
Taliban lead negotiator Abbas Stanikzai told AFP Thursday that overall talks had been “going well.”
The talks are expected to focus on establishing a timeline for the US withdrawal of its more than 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.
“We’ve been there for 18 years, it’s ridiculous,” US President Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday.
“We are negotiating with the government and we are negotiating with the Taliban,” he said.
“We have good talks going and we will see what happens.”
But the thorny issues of power-sharing with the Taliban, the role of regional powers including Pakistan and India, and the fate of Afghanistan’s incumbent administration remain unresolved.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad sought to bolster optimism for a peace agreement last week when he said in a tweet that he hoped this is the final year that the country is at war.