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article imageCanada to host regional leaders for Venezuela crisis talks

By AFP     Jan 28, 2019 in World

Canada will host an "urgent meeting" of the Lima Group on the Venezuela crisis on February 4 in Ottawa, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced Monday.

The bloc of 14 nations -- Latin American powers and Canada -- will "discuss the steps we can take to support (opposition leader) Juan Guaido and the people of Venezuela," she said.

Most of the Lima Group has urged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down as his country sinks further into economic and political crisis, suffering shortages of food and medicine, and skyrocketing inflation.

"The Maduro regime relinquished any remaining legitimacy when it seized power through fraudulent elections," Freeland said, renewing calls for him to "cede power to the National Assembly, the only remaining democratically-elected institution in Venezuela in line with that country's constitution."

Guaido was recognized as the legitimate interim president by a number of countries, including the United States, which has slapped tough economic sanctions on the Maduro regime.

Maduro, who maintains the backing of the military, has accused the US and Guaido of attempting to engineer a coup.

But Freeland said his rule has led to three million people fleeing Venezuela, which the UN has warned could rise to five million by the end of this year.

"This crisis poses huge security, humanitarian and migration challenges for our entire hemisphere," she said.

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