19:32 GMT18 February 2020
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    Ten European countries, including the United Kingdom, recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido's attempt to seize power in Venezuela on Monday, joining the United States, Canada, and US allies in Latin America in calling for democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

    Britain is considering slapping Caracas with sanctions as part of its bid to put an end to the "Maduro regime," a spokesman to Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters on Monday.

    "Venezuelan people deserve a better future, they have suffered enough and the Maduro regime must end. It is time for free and fair elections," the spokesman said, according to Reuters.

    "We are looking at what further steps we can take to ensure peace and democracy in Venezuela including through sanctions," the spokesman added.

    Earlier, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt took to Twitter to express the UK's support for Guaido, now that London's demand that Venezuela hold snap presidential elections has expired.

    Hunt joined officials from nine other countries, including Finland, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, France, Austria, Sweden and Germany in recognising Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

    The UK previously called for EU-wide sanctions against members of the Venezuelan government last week, with Foreign Secretary Hunt saying restrictions against "the kleptocrats who have enriched themselves on the back of the rest of the population who are very poor…can be effective."

    Earlier, the Bank of England reportedly denied Venezuela's request to repatriate some $1.2 billion in gold bullion back to the country following a request from Guaido to freeze the assets. The move reportedly prompted Venezuela, a major gold mining country, to halt gold sales abroad.

    The long-running political crisis in Venezuela escalated on January 23, when Juan Guaido, leader of Venezuela's semi-defunct National Assembly, proclaimed himself interim president after a phone call with US Vice-President Mike Pence. Washington, Ottawa, and multiple Latin American and European countries voiced support for the attempted coup, while Russia, China, Mexico, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Iran and Turkey backed President Nicolas Maduro, and urged outside powers not to meddle in Venezuela's affairs.


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