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Greece Tows EU’s Line, Recognises Venezuela’s Leader, Guaido

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Greece will follow the EU’s line and recognise Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday, in an about-face after the new conservative government took power.

“The government of the Hellenic Republic warmly supports the EU’s efforts … aimed at reaching a peaceful, democratic solution to the crisis for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” the ministry said.

Greece’s previous leftist-led government had refrained from recognising Guaido, who in January proclaimed a rival presidency in Venezuela until a new election could be held, in a challenge to president Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro, who took office in 2013 after the death of his mentor Hugo Chavez, has overseen an economic collapse that has left swathes of once-wealthy Venezuela without reliable access to power, water, food and medicines.

Most Western nations have said Maduro’s reelection in 2018 was rigged.

Guaido, 35, head of Venezuela’s opposition-led legislature declared himself acting leader of the oil-rich nation, which has lurched into economic chaos and violence under Maduro, 56.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared Maduro “illegitimate” and called the National Assembly legislature “the only legitimate branch of government”.

A furious Maduro responded to the U.S. move by breaking off diplomatic ties with the “imperialist” U.S. government, giving its diplomats 72 hours to leave.

Maduro hit back in a speech from a balcony at the presidential palace, lashing out at Trump.

He condemned what he called the U.S. leader’s “extremist policy” as “a very serious folly”.

“Trying to impose a government by extra-constitutional means, we cannot accept that.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed for dialogue to avoid the political crisis spiralling out of control.

“What we hope is that dialogue can be possible, and that we avoid an escalation that would lead to the kind of conflict that would be a disaster for the people of Venezuela and for the region,” he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Guaido called on the military to join “the side of the constitution” and offered an amnesty to any Maduro allies who would defect.

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