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Russia expects Venezuelan authorities to stop tensions from escalating

The Kremlin expects that the legitimate Venezuelan authorities will be able to stop tensions from escalating, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, when asked if Washington's plans to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela would fuel tensions.

"We hope that Venezuela's legitimate authorities will make every possible effort to prevent tensions from escalating further," he said.

According to the US Department of State, US "Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams will travel to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida and Cucuta, Colombia February 21-22 to support the delivery of humanitarian aid to some of the most vulnerable people in Venezuela." "Abrams will lead a US government delegation to accompany humanitarian supplies to be transported from Florida to Colombia by military aircraft. While in Colombia Special Representative Abrams will meet Colombian President Duque and visiting delegations from Central and South America," the State Department added.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido claimed earlier that the United States was ready to provide the country with humanitarian aid worth over $20 mln. He also said that talks on supplying the country with medicines and food were underway with the governments of Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay and Panama. Meanwhile, Chile President Sebastian Pinera said that he and his Colombian counterpart Ivan Duque would visit Cucuta on February 22.

Guaido also said that foreign humanitarian aid would arrive in Venezuela on February 23 and will be distributed by the opposition through volunteers. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in turn, castigated the humanitarian aid initiative as a cheap show and called on the country's people to reject the aid. However, a humanitarian aid distribution center has been set up in Cucuta.

Crisis in Venezuela

On January 23, Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country's Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country's capital of Caracas.

Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him. Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US.

In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference. The United Nations secretary general, in turn, called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

On February 4, most of the European Union member states recognized Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 22Feb19]

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