04:27 GMT +315 December 2019
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    An opposition member holds a Venezuelan national flag during a protest march against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019.

    Norway Offers Helping Hand to Mediate in Venezuela Crisis

    © AP Photo / Fernando Llano
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    Political Crisis in Venezuela (573)

    While proposing a peaceful solution to the Venezuelan crisis and offering to mediate, Norway, acclaimed for its diplomatic role in establishing peace accords in Israel, Bosnia and Guatemala, also said it supported "people's legitimate demands for democracy".

    Norway's Conservative Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide has held talks with both parties in the Venezuela crisis and offered to contribute to finding a peaceful solution, national broadcaster NRK reported.

    "Today I have had conversations with both the President of the National Assembly and the Venezuelan Foreign Minister. We support the opposition's demands for democracy and new elections, and we have also encouraged the parties to come together for talks," Søreide told NRK.

    "Based on the long-standing contact with both parties", Søreide stressed that Norway is ready to contribute, if and when the parties want it.

    Søreide stressed the constant worsening of Venezuela's humanitarian situation.

    "There are many refugees, and it is a situation that can potentially escalate into further confrontation. We want to contribute to this never happening", Søreide stressed.

    READ MORE: US Recognises Guaido in Venezuela: Maduro Ally Tells Sputnik What Happens Next

    At the same time, Søreide called for "new, free and democratic elections", stressing that this was the only way to ensure a "politically inclusive process" in Venezuela. While the EU gave Venezuelan President Maduro a deadline of eight days to hold elections, the call was dismissed by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza during Saturday's urgent meeting of the UN Security Council.

    Last week, the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, declared himself the country's interim president, claiming Nicolas Maduro's presidency to be invalid. In a recent interview with NRK, Guaidó urged Norway to recognise him as president; Spain, Germany, the UK and France have already pledged to do. Søreide said that the Foreign Ministry maintained close contact with other Latin American countries, as well as the EU and the USA.

    Meanwhile, Russia, Cuba, China, Turkey and Iran have given Maduro's government full support. Maduro himself called Venezuela "the victim of a US conspiracy", referring to US Vice President Mike Pence promising Guaidó "full American support" the day before he declared himself Venezuela's new leader. Maduro also stressed that Venezuela has held numerous recent elections and urged the European countries to withdraw their demand.

    "Nobody gives us an ultimatum. All of Europe is bowing down to Donald Trump. It's that simple, especially when it comes to Venezuela," Maduro told CNN Turk.

    READ MORE: Analyst on Venezuelan Crisis: We Are Returning to Monroe Doctrine of 'Backyard'

    According to Caracas, the last group of US diplomats left Venezuela on Sunday following the diplomatic rift and a cessation of diplomatic relations. The US remains Venezuela's largest oil customer, accounting for 39 percent of its oil exports in 2018.

    According to the UN, at least 20 people were killed in protest-related violence last week.

    Norway is known for its diplomatic role in resolving conflicts throughout the world, and has contributed to the peace process in Afghanistan, Colombia, Guatemala, Myanmar, Israel, the Philippines, Somalia and Sudan, to name a few.

    Political Crisis in Venezuela (573)


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    diplomacy, Juan Guaidó, Nicolas Maduro, Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norway, Scandinavia, Latin America, Venezuela
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