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China, Russia, dozens of countries promise to defend Maduro at UN

File photo of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro. Photograph:( Reuters )

Agencia EFE United Nations Feb 15, 2019, 09.52 AM (IST)

China, Russia and several dozen other countries on Thursday committed themselves at the United Nations to defend the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro in the face of moves by the United States.

Surrounded by representatives of many of those nations, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza presented a declaration in which that coalition denounced the violation of basic UN principles such as the respect for national sovereignty and criticized Washington's sanctions and threats against the Maduro regime.

"In the coming days we will begin a series of actions as a group to raise awareness regarding the dangers that are currently confronting our peoples and, especially, the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela," Arreaza stated, reading directly from the document.

When asked about the situation, the Venezuelan foreign minister refused to divulge what measures were being contemplated, but he emphasized that Caracas and its supporting nations will seek "coordinated" action at all levels of the UN.

Russia and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council and thus have the ability to veto any initiative put forward by the US and/or its allies in that body.

Accompanying the Maduro regime's top diplomat were the UN ambassadors of Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria and Palestine.

"We are organizing to defend the right of peoples to live in healthy peace, to coexist in accord with the principles of international law, which are being violated in a flagrant and open manner and - in the case of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela - at this time in the most notorious way they can be violated," Arreaza said.

Once again, he attacked the US sanctions imposed on Caracas and other countries emphasizing that Washington has no "moral ... authority to impose sanctions on anyone."

In addition, he charged that the US is threatening to use military force against his nation and stressed that "Venezuela is a sovereign" country and will protect "every millimetre of (its) territory."

"The response that we will give in every situation will be proportional and appropriate to any type of attack or interference that may be made," Arreaza declared.

Russia's UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzia, told reporters that Moscow is very concerned about the possibility that "military action" might be considered against Venezuela.

This week, Arreaza has held meetings at the UN to seek support for his government in the face of the crisis Venezuela is experiencing.

Tension within Venezuela increased markedly starting on January 23, when the head of the country's opposition-controlled Parliament, Juan Guaido, proclaimed himself interim president, given that he and the rest of the opposition consider Maduro to be an illegitimate leader after he won a "fraudulent" election last May in which opposition candidates were barred from running against him.

Guaido's move accelerated the political crisis in the South American nation, with a good portion of the international community - including the US, some 20 European nations and a number of key Latin American countries - backing the interim leader and pressuring for the holding of free and fair elections.

Story highlights

Russia and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council and thus have the ability to veto any initiative put forward by the US and/or its allies in that body.