China calls for peaceful dialogue on Venezuela crisis

The US is also reportedly holding direct communications with members of Venezuela's military, urging them to switch their allegiance in exchange for sanctions relief, or to face even stronger penalties.

At the request of Interim President Juan Guaidó, the United States is immediately pre-positioning emergency supplies in Colombia to provide relief to Venezuelans coping with severe food and medicine shortages.

Guaido and his team have started speaking about a humanitarian corridor into the country, although with this border crossing blocked off, it was unclear how that would work.

Scott noted Cuba had sent military troops to Venezuela to defend Maduro.

"No one will enter, not one invading soldier", he insisted.

CARACAS, Feb 8 - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday the US -backed humanitarian aid being stockpiled in the Colombian border city of Cucuta for his country should be distributed to poor Colombians as Venezuelans are not "beggars".

Still, he said, rank-and-file soldiers were starving "just like the population" of Venezuela.

It's unclear what will break the standoff playing out at the Venezuela-Colombia border.

"They offer us toilet paper, like (U.S. President) Donald Trump threw at the people of Puerto Rico", he said at the conference, which experienced technical difficulties including a blackout and a microphone failure.

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Estimates of how many Venezuelans have left their home country during the tenures of former President Hugo Chavez and current leader Maduro vary widely, with some opponents and academics putting the figure at 4 million.

The possibility of such an operation loomed on Friday as Isaias Medina, an ex-Venezuelan diplomat who broke with Maduro in 2017, called on the Trump administration to consider the military option.

The two men described a plot headed by opposition figure Julio Borges, a former president of Venezuela's National Assembly living in Bogota. "The other practical problem we face is that, given the sanctions, we should no longer manage Venezuela from the United States ... but from Europe".

Consultants Eurasia Group said on Thursday that Maduro's traditonal allies Russian Federation and China are "unlikely to lend (him) meaningful support", reinforcing its view that the socialist leader "will be unable to sustain his regime".

The International Contact Group urged "free, transparent and credible presidential elections" in Venezuela "as soon as possible" to find a peaceful solution to the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido.

"We reject the partisan and ideological nature of the document", Maduro said on Friday, adding that he would always welcome dialog with anyone.

While the US claims Venezuela's self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaidó, asked for aid and should be able to accept it, it's clear Washington knows the aid is part of a stunt, and not everyone's happy about that.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said Germany had earmarked €5 million ($5.72 million) worth of assistance for Venezuela.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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