File Photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
The European Union extended sanctions against Venezuela by a year on Monday to pressure President Nicolas Maduro's government as the crisis gripping the oil-rich country rumbles on
An embargo on arms and equipment that could be used for political repression was extended to November 14 next year, along with asset freezes and travel bans on 25 senior members of the Maduro regime blamed for rights abuses.
The European move comes less than a week after Washington slapped new sanctions on five more Venezuelan officials, vowing to maintain "maximum pressure" on the Maduro government.
The European Council, which groups the 28 member states, said the decision to extend the sanctions was taken "in light of the ongoing political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis", pointing to "persistent actions undermining democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights".
"These measures are intended to help encourage democratic shared solutions in order to bring political stability to the country and allow it to address the pressing needs of the population," the council said.
"The targeted measures are flexible and reversible and designed not to harm the Venezuelan population."
The EU imposed the arms embargo in November 2017 and has added various officials to the sanctions list since.
In January, US President Donald Trump declared Maduro illegitimate after a widely criticised election, with most Western and Latin American nations recognising opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.
But nearly a year of pressure has failed to dislodge Maduro, who retains the support of the military, Russia and China despite a crumbling economy.