UN chief calls for avoiding violence in Venezuela

In this photo provided by the United Nations, Jorge Arreaza, left, Minister of the People's Power for Foreign Affairs, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, shakes hands with Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at United Nations headquarters on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (AP)
Updated 23 February 2019
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UN chief calls for avoiding violence in Venezuela

  • Dujarric said the message has been shared with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and would also be handed to his Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Arreaza

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all parties in Venezuela to avoid resorting to violence Friday after soldiers killed at least two people trying to prevent troops from blocking aid on the Brazilian border.
“Any loss of life is regrettable,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. “Looking ahead for tomorrow, the secretary-general strongly appeals for violence to be avoided.”
Dujarric said the message has been shared with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and would also be handed to his Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Arreaza.
Humanitarian aid has become a key focus of the power struggle between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who enjoys Russian support, and US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as interim leader by more than 50 countries.
The US and Venezuelan top diplomats requested the meetings with Guterres.
So far, the UN chief has resisted pressure to take a side, instead using his position to seek to negotiate a solution to the crisis, and opposing any politicization of humanitarian aid.
“The secretary-general is doing what he can,” Dujarric said, hinting that Guterres has little room to maneuver.
“Aid should be used in a way which is impartial... and without military objective,” Dujarric added, denouncing Friday’s violent flare-up.
Guterres has met with Arreaza twice so far since early February.
Arreaza is due to preside over an afternoon meeting with 46 countries including China, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia and Syria.
The countries are part of a group created last week at the UN to defend the principles of the UN Charter.


Morocco tourist murder trial to open on May 2

Updated 20 min 56 sec ago
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Morocco tourist murder trial to open on May 2

  • The bodies of the victims were found on High Atlas mountains
  • Official said four of the prosecuted appeared in videos pledging allegiance to Daesh

RABAT: Suspected extremist sympathizers will face trial on May 2 for the murder of two Scandinavian women in Morocco, a defense lawyer told AFP on Tuesday.
The killing of Danish student Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, and 28-year-old Norwegian Maren Ueland in December was deemed a “terrorist” act by Moroccan authorities.
Twenty-four defendants will face trial — for charges including promoting terrorism, forming a terrorist cell or causing premeditated harm to persons — in Sale, a city neighboring the capital Rabat, according to defense lawyer Saad Sahli.
A Spanish-Swiss man who authorities allege subscribed to “extremist ideology” stands accused of helping the four main suspects in the murder, charges he denies.
The decapitated bodies of the two victims were found in the High Atlas mountains, where they had been hiking in an area popular with tourists.
A video circulated on social media allegedly showed the murder of one of the women, while Rabat’s prosecutor has said the four main suspects appeared in separate footage pledging allegiance to the Daesh group.
The accused however had no contact with the extremist group in conflict zones, according to Morocco’s anti-terror chief.
The North African country relies heavily on tourism.
Foreign visitors were previously targeted in a 2011 bomb blast in Marrakesh which killed 17 people.
An attack in 2003 on the financial capital Casablanca left 33 people dead.