EU backs US plan for Venezuela transitional government

Brussels (AFP) –


The European Union on Friday welcomed a US plan for a transitional government in Venezuela and subsequent lifting of economic sanctions.

Washington last month suggested that both hard left President Nicolas Maduro and his rival Juan Guaido -- previously backed by the US -- step aside in favour of a transitional administration made up of members of both their parties.

The shift in US tactics came as fears grow that the coronavirus pandemic will spread rapidly both inside and from Venezuela, an oil-wealthy nation now crumbling in an economic crisis.

"The European Union takes positive note of the Democratic Transition Framework on Venezuela proposed by the United States," the EU's diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on behalf of all 27 members of the bloc.

"The US proposal goes in the EU line of proposing a peaceful way out of the crisis through a negotiated path to a democratic government, which is now more needed than ever."

If Washington's plan is fully implemented, the United States and EU would lift sanctions, including sweeping US restrictions on Venezuela's key export of oil.

The IMF and other international lenders would be invited to plan economic relief for Venezuela, from which millions have fled as they face dire shortages of food and other necessities.

But Maduro has repeatedly ruled out ceding power and his government quickly rejected the framework, which is similar to a proposal put forward last year by Guaido in failed Norwegian-brokered talks.

In a statement, Maduro's government rejected the EU's position, saying it was merely a tactic to bring the "old coup plan to fruition".

Venezuela "calls upon the EU member states to respect the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people and reminds them that, since they are signatories to the Charter of the United Nations, the least they can do is to respect its goals and its principles", the statement said.