UN chief urges political solution on Venezuela

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the Venezuelan government and opposition on Wednesday to re-start negotiations, calling for a brokered solution to the country's economic and political crisis.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the army to conduct a round of military drills later this month in response to US President Donald Trump's threat of military action in the crisis-stricken nation.

The oil-exporting South American country has been plunged into economic chaos and rocked by angry street protests from opponents demanding Maduro's removal. Nearly 130 people have died in recent months of unrest.

"Venezuela needs a political solution based on dialogue and compromise between the government and the opposition," Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters, backing international and regional efforts to advance talks.

"I strongly support those efforts. I've been in close contact with all of them, and I urge the government and the opposition to restart negotiations because I believe that only solution is a political solution."

Trump said last week that he was considering a range of scenarios for Venezuela and was "not going to rule out a military option." Russia on Wednesday called any threats against Venezuela "unacceptable."

Trump's apparent threat was also roundly condemned across Latin America, even by states opposed to the socialist Maduro.

"Latin America has successfully managed to get rid of both foreign intervention and authoritarianism, and this is a lesson that is very important to make sure that this legacy is safeguarded," said Guterres.