Maas: Germany backs Guaido | News | DW | 24.01.2019
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Maas: Germany backs Guaido

Germany's foreign minister told DW that Berlin supports new elections in Venezuela, as Nicolas Maduro "is not a democratically legitimate president." Meanwhile, Maduro announced Venezuela is closing its US embassy.

Watch video 00:49

Maas: 'We support what Guaido is doing'

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Berlin and the European Union support holding fresh elections in Venezuela after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim leader.

"We are not neutral," Maas told DW's Oliver Sallet in New York City, adding that Germany "stands on the side of Guaido" as the leader of the National Assembly.

"This is why we we are calling for fresh elections, for the National Assembly to assume responsibility and for the force of constitutional law to be restored to Venezuela. We've made that known together with our European partners and that's going to be our policy in the coming days," Maas said.

"We are not neutral as regards this question, but rather support what Guaido is doing," he added.

Despite twice saying the German stance was not neutral, Maas still appeared to stop short of explicit recognition of Guaido as the country's rightful leader over current President Nicolas Maduro. European countries, unlike the US and several Latin American countries, are yet to formally endorse a change of leadership in Venezuela.

On Wednesday, Guaido declared himself Venezuela's interim president, a move that was immediately supported and recognized by US President Donald Trump, as well as Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Canada and others.

Read more: Opinion: Venezuela at a crossroads

Maduro to close US embassy

Maduro appeared to make good on his move to break off diplomatic relations with Washington, announcing on Thursday that Venezuela's embassy and its consulates in the US would be closing.

In a speech at Venezuela's Supreme Court, Maduro also accused the US of pushing Guaido to attempt a coup d'etat.

He added that he agreed with an appeal from Mexico and Uruguay for there to be talks between Venezuela's government and opposition to find a resolution for the political crisis.

Read more: Venezuela crisis: Key players and institutions

The US State Department on Thursday ordered non-emergency US government employees to leave Venezuela. It also added that US citizens should "strongly consider" leaving the country.

US urges Security Council meeting

The surprise move on Wednesday sparked a wave of reactions around the world, with the US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and others recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's president.

Russia, China, Turkey, Mexico and Bolivia opposed the move, continuing to pledge their support to Maduro.

On Thursday, the US requested to hold a United Nations Security Council meeting "to discuss the ongoing crisis in Venezuela."

The US Mission to the UN tweeted that it had requested the open meeting be held on Saturday morning. The Venezuela issue is not currently on the Security Council's schedule, and Washington would need the support of at least nine out of the 15 council nations to hold a meeting.

Read moreVenezuela and the US: From friends to foes

Guaido's announcement came as tens of thousands of people took part in protests on Wednesday in rallies both supporting and opposing Maduro's government.

The demonstrations capped several days of anti-government demonstrations during which at least 26 people have died, according to the non-profit Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict.

Anger has grown over Venezuela's massive economic crisis, with millions of people fleeing the country in recent years due to rocketing inflation as well as food and medicine shortages.

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Watch video 02:32

Venezuela: Guaido swears self in as interim president

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