ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Umar Farooq
WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday called on the UN Security Council to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of the country.
"We call on members of the Security Council to support Venezuela’s democratic transition and Interim President Guaido’s role in it," Pompeo said in an open meeting at the Security Council.
"This meeting is long overdue," Pompeo added. "Millions of children are suffering from malnutrition and starvation."
On Wednesday, following mass demonstrations throughout the country, Gauido, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, announced President Nicolas Maduro as illegitimate and declared himself as the interim president.
At least 20 people have died in the protests, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Soon after, U.S. President Donald Trump put out a statement recognizing Guaido as the president of the country.
Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay have followed suit while Bolivia and Mexico continue to recognize Maduro.
Russia and China both opposed the U.S. call to support Guaido, and condemned any international interference in the affairs of Venezuela.
"The United States and their allies started implementing a plan to overthrow the legitimate authorities of the country," Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the UN, said.
"In front of our very eyes the attempts by the United States to impose their will on other nations is being complemented with another chapter," Nebenzya added.
The U.K., France, and Germany called for new, "free and fair elections" in Venezuela within eight days. If elections do not take place, the countries said they would be ready to recognize Guaido as the interim leader of the South American nation.
"Secretary General [Antonio Guterres] emphasized urgency for all actors to engage in dialogue with full respect for rule of law," said Rosmary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs.