News ID: 252204
Published: 0237 GMT May 01, 2019

Iran calls for intra-Venezuelan dialogue to end crisis

Iran calls for intra-Venezuelan dialogue to end crisis

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran believes in the need for intra-Venezuelan dialogue aimed at resolving the ongoing political crisis in the South American country.

“We believe the constitutional government of Venezuela needs to continue,” Zarif told reporters on the sidelines of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue in Doha.

“We are happy that the people of Venezuela defeated the coup, but we continue to believe in the need for discussions as the government has suggested,” he said. “We have always encouraged intra-Venezuelan dialogue.”

Also on Wednesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said that chaos and violence cannot resolve the political differences in Venezuela.

Demonstrators clashed violently with police on the streets of the Venezuelan capital Tuesday, spurred by opposition leader Juan Guaido's call on the military to rise up against President Nicolas Maduro, whose government said it defeated an attempted coup, AFP reported.

An apparently carefully planned attempt by Guaido to demonstrate growing military support disintegrated into rioting as palls of black smoke rose over eastern Caracas.

Maduro declared victory on Tuesday evening over the coup attempt – congratulating the armed forces for having "defeated this small group that intended to spread violence through putschist skirmishes".

"This will not go unpunished," Maduro said in an address broadcast on television and the radio.

"[Prosecutors] will launch criminal prosecutions for the serious crimes that have been committed against the constitution, the rule of law and the right to peace."

Guaido rallied his supporters with an early morning video message that showed him – for the first time – with armed troops he said had heeded months of urging to join his campaign to oust Maduro.

The 35-year-old National Assembly leader was filmed outside the La Carlota air base, where he urged the armed forces inside to join him.

The video had the extra shock value of featuring key opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez at his side, saying he had been released from years of house arrest by soldiers.

Guaido claimed the move was the "beginning of the end" of Maduro's regime, and there was "no turning back".

Thousands of opposition supporters flocked onto a highway near the base, many waving Venezuelan flags. But confusion reigned as they were met with gunfire and tear-gas fired by soldiers at the perimeter of the base.

Lopez later entered the Chilean Embassy with his wife and one of his children to claim asylum, Chile's Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero announced in Santiago.

Soldiers backing Guaido wore blue armbands to demonstrate their allegiance to the opposition leader but there appeared to be few of them.

As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed to all sides to avoid violence, Venezuela's Army Chief and Defense Minister, General Vladimir Padrino, issued a stark warning of possible "bloodshed" – adding that he would hold the opposition responsible.

Russia, Maduro's main backer and creditor with China, accused Guaido of "fueling conflict" in the oil-rich country.

Maduro's leftist Latin American allies Cuba and Bolivia also condemned Guaido.

Tensions in Venezuela have been ratcheted up to a critical level this year, after Guaido announced on January 23 that he was the acting president under the constitution. He claimed Maduro had been fraudulently re-elected last year.

Although US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said "all options" are on the table regarding Venezuela – including, implicitly, military action – there has been no noticeable US military mobilization.

Instead, Washington has upped the economic pressure, through sanctions aimed at Maduro's government and by cutting sales of Venezuelan oil – its main revenue earner.



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