US has no plans to join Contact Group on Venezuela — Department of State

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WASHINGTON, February 8. /TASS/. The United States is not interested in joining the International Contact Group on Venezuela, but expects its participants to take share Washington’s stance on the matter, a senior US Department of State official said.

“I don’t believe we were ever interested in joining the contact group, because we don’t think that’s the way to go,” US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told reporters at a media briefing.

“I hope they’re going to follow the position of the United States, which is that the only worthwhile message to the Maduro regime is it’s time to end the dictatorship in Venezuela,” he added.

According to the US diplomat, Washington insists on Maduro stepping down and fleeing the country.

“The endgame for him [Maduro] should be to leave power, and the sooner the better. Because his own situation is only going to decline the longer he clings to power and the more misery there is in Venezuela,” Abrams said.

“I think it is better for the transition to democracy in Venezuela that he be outside the country. And there are a number of countries that I think would be willing to accept him,” he said. “He’s got friends in places like Cuba and Russia, and there are some other countries actually that have come to us privately and said they’d be willing to take members of the current illegitimate regime if it would help the transition.”

Participants of the Contact Group met in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo on Thursday. The meeting was attended by several EU members, as well as Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay and Mexico. Venezuela’s government and the opposition did not take part.

On January 23, Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas.

Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), as well as the Organization of American States and other nations, recognized Guaido. Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US.

In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference.

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