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UN will not join any group on Venezuela crisis talks: Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres. Photograph:( PTI )

AFP United Nations, USA Feb 04, 2019, 10.10 PM (IST)

The United Nations will not join any group of nations promoting initiatives to resolve the crisis in Venezuela, the UN chief said Monday, indicating he will not attend a meeting in Uruguay this week of several countries.

Mexico and Uruguay had hoped that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would attend a conference in Montevideo on Thursday aimed at promoting dialogue between Venezuela's self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido and leader Nicolas Maduro.

"The UN Secretariat has decided not to be part of any of these groups in order to give credibility to our continued offer of good offices to the parties to be able at their request to help find a political solution," Guterres told reporters.

Guaido has won backing from the United States, European powers including France, Germany and Spain, Canada, Australia and a dozen Latin American countries to take over the leadership, but Russia and China continue to support Maduro.

The global split over Venezuela has left the United Nations in a quandary and Guterres' comments suggested that the world body would remain on the sidelines for now. 

Mexico and Uruguay have not recognized Guaido, the head of the National Assembly who declared himself acting president on January 23 in place of Maduro.

A group of Latin American and European states are to hold their first meeting of a contact group in Montevideo on Thursday.

The contact group comprises the EU and eight of its member states -- France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden -- and four Latin American countries: Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay.

Guterres said he was following the crisis in Venezuela "with a lot of concern," adding that he had discussed the various initiatives put forward with the countries involved.

The UN chief met with Mexico's ambassador to the United Nations Juan Jose Gomez Camacho last week who said the Montevideo conference was to "offer a chance for dialogue to all parties involved."

Venezuela has suffered an economic meltdown marked by hyperinflation and shortages of basic necessities that the opposition blames on the Maduro government.

Millions have been left in poverty, while 2.3 million more have fled the country, unleashing a migration crisis in South America.

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'The UN Secretariat has decided not to be part of any of these groups in order to give credibility to our continued offer of good offices to the parties to be able at their request to help find a political solution,' Guterres told reporters.