Venezuela's choice is freedom or mayhem — Pompeo tells UN

SA backs beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro

SA backs beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro

In Washington, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, considered a key architect of the U.S. policy on Venezuela, played down the possibility of a military intervention despite his and Trump's warnings earlier in the week that "all options are on the table".

Over the weekend, Israeli officials told Channel 13 news that State Department officials had made the request to diplomats at the embassy in Washington DC on Thursday, and that other U.S. allies who have yet to declare their support for either side have also been asked to issue statements in support of Guaido.

Late Saturday, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Maduro's government was suspending the expulsion to provide a 30-day window for negotiating with USA officials about setting up a "U.S. interests office" in Venezuela and a similar Venezuelan office in the United States, according to the Associated Press. The Security Council's five veto-wielding permanent members could not unite behind a statement on Venezuela, presenting widely differing texts.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on countries to "pick a side" on Venezuela, urging them to back opposition leader Juan Guaido in a Saturday speech at the UN Security Council in NY.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reiterated Brussels' call for Venezuela to hold free, transparent and credible presidential elections, adding that failure to do so would prompt further action by the EU.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza dismissed the deadline.

"Nobody is going to give us deadlines or tell us if there are elections or not", Arreaza said. "They are attacking us and they think Venezuela is their back garden", Maduro said. "The intention of the United States is to orchestrate a coup d'etat", said Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

Members of the opposition gather to propose amnesty laws for police and military, in Las Mercedes neighbourhood of Caracas, Venezuela, on Saturday.

Russia, meanwhile, called for the United States and Europe to cease interfering in Venezuela. China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea voted with Moscow to block the meeting, while nine countries voted in favor of the meeting.

Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez, who broke off ties with Israel in 2009, have both been strident critics of Israel, and some Jewish community leaders have expressed fears of the government stoking anti-Semitism. Many voters boycotted, saying the polls were not free and fair.

"Now is the time for every other national to pick a side", Pompeo told the Security Council. No more delays, no more games. The European Union demanded speedy elections and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told the United Nations that the socialist Maduro must go.

China's UN Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu said his government "firmly opposed" the United States accusations and doesn't interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

Nebenzia was speaking at the UN Security Council, which saw the USA and France condemn Maduro's government for the country's dire economic situation.

Russia's Nebenzia also rejected Pompeo's claims.

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"The Venezuelan people must be able to freely decide their future", Macron said.

The US has pushed for Guaido to be recognised‚ taking the matter urgently to be discussed in the security council later on Saturday in NY.

Thousands took to the streets to protest against Maduro, demanding he step down. The US and Cuba had a similar arrangement for decades before the Obama administration restored diplomatic relations with the communist-run island. Guaido told the Americans to stay.

"I want to be 100 percent clear - President Trump and I fully expect that our diplomats will continue to receive protections provided under the Vienna Convention", he said.

President Donald Trump's recognition of Guaido has been supported by many Latin American powers including Brazil, Colombia and Argentina - but not all.

"Our priority remains the safety and protection of our personnel and USA citizens overseas".

That's highly doubtful. And Maduro has been emboldened by the financial, diplomatic and military support he's received from China, Russia, and Turkey, among others.

Maduro is accusing the opposition of working with the overthrow him.

The United States, Canada and a string of Latin American countries recognized Guaido in quick succession.

But he added that he was still willing to talk with the opposition even if he "had to go naked".

On his first day on the job, Abrams met with exiled leaders of Venezuela's opposition.

To date, President Maduro retains the levers of power.

"Let's not escalate tensions around Venezuela", he said at the end of the almost six hour council meeting. "Set aside these ridiculous ultimatums of eight days".

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