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Contact group on Venezuela to promote authorities-opposition dialogue — Russian diplomat

The European Union and Uruguay will hold the first meeting of the contact group in Montevideo on February 7

MOSCOW, February 4. /TASS/. An international contact group on Venezuela is called to encourage dialogue between that country’s legitimate authorities and the opposition, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said on Monday.

The European Union and Uruguay will hold the first meeting of the contact group on Venezuelan settlement in Montevideo on February 7. The decision to set up a contact group on the settlement of the crisis in Venezuela was taken at an informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Bucharest on January 31. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said back then that the contact group will be tasked to help prepare new presidential elections in Venezuela and find a solution to the crisis within 90 days.

"I think this international contact group will have a chance to go down in history if it takes efforts to encourage dialogue between the legitimate government and the opposition," he said, adding that President Nicolas Maduro had agreed to embark on a dialogue with the opposition long before. "There is a certain niche for such international assistance," Chizhov noted.

On January 23, the leader of Venezuela’s opposition Juan Guaido, whose appointment as parliamentary speaker had been annulled by the Supreme Court two days before that, declared himself as acting president. On the same day, the United States recognized him as acting head of state. So did the Lima Group countries except for Mexico, the Organization of American States, and a number of other countries. On January 28, Washington imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil company PDVSA and put some of Venezuela’s assets in US banks under Guaido’s control.

Some European countries, including Britain, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and France on January 26 said they would recognize Guaido as interim president, if Maduro refused to call an early election within eight days. Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey came out in Maduro’s support. The UN secretary-general urged a dialogue for resolving the crisis.