World

US and Russia push rival United Nations actions on Venezuela

Washington: The United States is pushing the UN Security Council to formally call for free, fair and credible presidential elections in Venezuela with international observers, diplomats said, a move that prompted Russia to propose a rival draft resolution.Moscow and Washington have been at loggerheads over a US-led campaign for international recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the country's elected National Assembly Juan Guaido over President Nicolas Maduro. Guaido last month declared himself interim head of state.

Diplomats from the 15 Security Council members met privately on Friday afternoon to discuss the US-drafted resolution, seen by Reuters, that would express "full support for the National Assembly as the only democratically elected institution."Russia, China, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa last month blocked the Security Council from issuing a statement with the same language. But the same four countries failed in a Russian-led bid to stop the council from publicly discussing Venezuela, at the request of the United States, on Jan. 26.

During talks on the US draft resolution on Friday, Russia  which has accused Washington of backing a coup attempt in Venezuela  proposed an alternative text, diplomats said.The Russian draft would express "concern over the attempts to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction." It would also express "concern over the threats to use force against the territorial integrity and political independence" of Venezuela.US President Donald Trump has said military intervention in Venezuela was "an option."It was unclear if or when either draft Security Council resolution could be put to a vote. A council resolution needs nine votes and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass. 

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