Venezuela’s Guaido courts Russia; powers divided on Maduro

Venezuela's National Assembly head and self-proclaimed "acting president" Juan Guaido, seen at the National Assembly in Caracas on January 29, 2019, is urging Russia and China to switch their support to his side. (AFP / Yuri Cortez)
Updated 01 February 2019
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Venezuela’s Guaido courts Russia; powers divided on Maduro

  • Russia and China are backing the floundering government of President Nicolas Maduro
  • The US and most of Venezuela's neighbors want Maduro out

CARACAS: Global jostling intensified on Thursday between countries that want Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in power and those trying to force him to resign, as opposition leader Juan Guaido made overtures to his rival’s allies Russia and China.
Guaido told Reuters he had sent communications to both powers, which are Venezuela’s top foreign creditors and support Maduro in the UN Security Council despite worries about the cash-strapped country’s ability to pay.
The 35-year-old leader argued that Russia and China’s interests would be best served by switching the side they back in Venezuela, an OPEC member which has the world’s largest oil reserves but is in dire financial straits.
“What most suits Russia and China is the country’s stability and a change of government,” Guaido said. “Maduro does not protect Venezuela, he doesn’t protect anyone’s investments, and he is not a good deal for those countries.”
The intense pressure is led by the United States, which along with most other countries in the Western Hemisphere recognizes Guaido as the country’s legitimate interim president, arguing that Maduro stole his second-term election.
The United States on Monday imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm, aimed at pressuring Maduro to step down.
A former union leader, bus driver and foreign minister, the 56-year-old Maduro, who first took office in 2013, has faced waves of protests in recent years as he presided over hyperinflation and chronic food shortages. Some 3 million Venezuelans have left the country. A UN expert on Thursday warned that the US oil sanctions could worsen the humanitarian crisis.


Pompeo says ‘quite possible’ Iran behind Gulf incidents

Updated 7 min 30 sec ago
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Pompeo says ‘quite possible’ Iran behind Gulf incidents

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday it was “quite possible” Iran was responsible for sabotage of Gulf oil interests, although he stopped short of making a definitive conclusion.
“Given all the regional conflicts that we have seen over the past decade and the shape of these attacks, it seems like it’s quite possible that Iran was behind these,” Pompeo, who later Tuesday will brief US lawmakers on rising tensions with Tehran, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

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