European and Latin American countries that form an “international contact group” hoping to end Venezuela’s political crisis will hold their first meeting in Montevideo on Thursday, the joint hosts announced Sunday.
The meeting will be at the ministerial level, said a statement from EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez.
“The IGC aims at contributing to creating conditions for a political and peaceful process to emerge, enabling Venezuelans to determine their own future, through the holding of free, transparent and credible elections, in line with the country’s Constitution,” said the statement.
The contact group comprises the EU and eight of its member states — France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom — and four Latin American countries: Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay.
The EU announced its creation last Thursday, giving itself a 90-day timetable to resolve the crisis in Venezuela.
Mogherini said then that its aim was to enable the holding of new elections under democratic conditions — not to mediate with the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
The United States and a dozen Latin American countries have already recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s acting head of state — as has the European Parliament.
France, Britain, Germany, and Spain are among the EU countries that have told Maduro to call elections by the weekend or they will recognize the opposition-backed parliamentary speaker.
France European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said Sunday that if Maduro had not called a fresh presidential election by Sunday evening, France would consider Guaidó interim president with the right to organize them in his place.
She denounced Maduro’s election victory last May as a “tragic farce” in comments to French radio RTL.
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