No agreement reached as diplomats huddle on Venezuelan crisis

ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON
Published 01.06.2017 23:49

Top diplomats from across the Western Hemisphere fell short Wednesday in their bid to reach agreement about how to address Venezuela's deteriorating democratic crisis, with some countries insisting that foreigners had no right to intervene in Venezuela's internal affairs.

The failure came despite the urgent pleas from some nations represented at the extraordinary meeting in Washington, where foreign ministers broadly shared one hope: that Venezuela, which has vowed to leave the regional group in protest of its potential intervention, would reconsider. Beyond that, there were few points of agreement.

But left-leaning nations that have been sympathetic to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro insisted the OAS had no business interfering in the crisis, in which protests against Maduro's government have left at least 60 people dead. Nicaraguan diplomat Luis Alvarado said his country condemned and rejected the attempt to "subvert the rights" of a sovereign country. His comments were echoed by Bolivia's Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni Mamani, who accused the OAS of choosing "aggression" and "confrontation."

Maduro has vowed to resolve the crisis by forming a special assembly to rewrite the constitution, a proposal protesters have rejected as yet another attempt by Maduro to consolidate power. Maduro's opposition says the process outlined by Maduro for selecting the assembly is designed to skew it in his favor by stacking the assembly with his supporters.

At Wednesday's meeting in Washington, foreign ministers considered two draft resolutions. Both drafts called for a reduction in violence but differ in their wording on other demands for Maduro to change course.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the top U.S. diplomat, did not attend the meeting at OAS headquarters, just a few blocks from Tillerson's State Department offices. In his stead, he sent Tom Shannon, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, who urged Venezuela to stay in the group and defended its right to try to resolve the crisis.

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