Who backs whom in Venezuela crisis

Venezuela's opposition chief Juan Guaido

Foreign ministers from the Lima Group countries - Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia, alongside representatives from the U.K, the European Union and the US - met in Ottawa today to further solidify support for Guaido as protests over the legitimacy of Maduro's government continue to fill the streets in Venezuela.

France, Spain, Germany, Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands's coordinated move came after the expiry of an eight-day ultimatum for Mr Maduro to call a new election.

Today's meeting in Ottawa will also discuss how to aid the people of Venezuela, including through immediate humanitarian assistance, the office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. But he didn't say if the Holy See would recognize Guaido and said he had no business interfering in the crisis.

Several European Union nations on Monday joined the USA in backing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president - increasing the pressure on beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

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.

Venezuela's opposition has rejected any offers of dialogue that don't include Maduro's exit as a starting point. It is time for free and fair elections.

All eyes are now on Venezuela's military, which has so far been Maduro's main pillar of support, but there have been signs of unrest in the ranks.

On January 29, Washington slapped sanctions on the Venezuelan oil producer PDVSA and later transferred control of some of Venezuela's assets in United States banks to Guaido.

Plea for help comes after nations recognise country's rival opposition chief as interim leader.

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"The United Kingdom now recognises Juan Guaido as the constitutional interim President of Venezuela, until credible presidential elections can be held".

Trudeau spoke on Sunday to Guaido and the two "discussed the importance of the worldwide community sending a clear message regarding the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime", Trudeau's office said.

On Sunday, Trump confirmed in an interview for the CBS broadcaster that U.S. military intervention in Venezuela was "an option".

Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse and the exodus of millions of Venezuelans, maintains the backing of Russia, China and Turkey, and the critical support of the military.

In an interview with Corriere Della Sera newspaper on Monday, Mr Guaido said he "will do whatever it takes" to persuade Italy to join the position of other European Union nations.

Santos Silva, the Portuguese diplomat, said the Contact group wants to end Venezuela's political stalemate through the ballot box, preventing a civil war or an "illegitimate foreign intervention".

Meanwhile, the opposition was moving ahead with a risky strategy to bring in humanitarian aid from Colombia, hoping to break the all-important military's loyalty to Maduro.

Maduro, for his part, stood defiant, accusing the United States of preparing a coup in the South American country and rejecting a US -backed effort to send emergency food and medicine into his country.

"We are not beggars", Maduro said in a speech to troops broadcast on Venezuelan state TV.

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