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Russia, China veto US measure on Venezuela in UN Council

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United Nations (United States) (AFP)

Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a US resolution in the UN Security Council on addressing the crisis in Venezuela, while a rival draft put forward by Moscow failed to win enough votes.

The failure to take action on the two competing drafts laid bare divisions among world powers over the way forward in Venezuela, which is mired in a political standoff and an economic meltdown.

The proposed US text -- which called for new presidential elections in Venezuela and unimpeded deliveries of humanitarian aid -- won the required nine votes at the 15-member council, but Moscow and Beijing joined forces to block it.

Resolutions at the council, which are legally binding, must garner nine votes to be adopted, with no vetoes from the five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

France, Germany and Britain were among those that backed the proposed measure. South Africa voted no while Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast abstained.

Russia's draft resolution -- which urged a settlement "through peaceful means" and insisting that all humanitarian aid be agreed by President Nicolas Maduro's government -- won only four votes: Russia, China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea.

Seven countries including the United States, European countries and Peru opposed the Russian measure and there were four abstentions.

After the double vetoes, US envoy Elliott Abrams took an implicit swipe at Russia and China, lamenting that countries "continue to shield Maduro and his cronies and prolong the suffering of the Venezuelan people."

Abrams expressed satisfaction that "a clear majority of the council" had supported the US stance.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia shot back that Washington was staging an "illegal theater of the absurd" by seeking to install opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's president.

Battered by economic collapse, Venezuela descended into a major political crisis when Guaido declared himself interim president in January and asserted that Maduro was no longer legitimate.

The United States is leading a push for recognition of Guaido, who heads the National Assembly. He is now backed by more than 50 countries.

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