Who backs whom in Venezuela crisis

UK recognises Juan Guaido as interim President of Venezuela

Netherlands recognises Guadio as Venezuelan leader after deadline expires

Instead, major European nations had to scramble to individually recognize the Venezuelan National Assembly leader as interim president on February 4 after their deadline for Venezuelan regime leader Nicolas Maduro to hold fresh elections passed.

France, Spain, Germany, Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands's coordinated move came after the expiry of an eight-day ultimatum for Mr Maduro to call a new election.

But key Maduro ally Russian Federation slammed European "interference" in the oil-rich but impoverished Latin American country, saying it was an attempt "to legitimize usurped power".

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Germany, once the political circumstances allow it, would also consider providing humanitarian assistance worth €5 million ($5.7 million) to help ease the plight of Venezuelans who are suffering the effects of a country in economic free fall.

Claiming his legitimacy from the constitution, the 35-year-old National Assembly leader stunned the world when he proclaimed himself interim president on January 23, setting up a tense standoff with Maduro - with both men heading rival massive street rallies in Caracas on Saturday.

The statement, which expressed the "most energetic rejection" to the European Union states' decision, added that the Venezuelan government will now revise its bilateral relations with European Union countries who have recognized Guaido as the legitimate interim president.

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Maduro told Italy's SkyTg24 news channel that he sent a letter to Pope Francis, calling on him to act as a mediator to avoid an escalation in Venezuela: "I asked the Pope to produce his best effort, his will to help us on the path of dialogue".

Canada has announced a humanitarian relief package for Venezuela. Moscow has labeled the attempts by other countries to legitimize the usurpation of power in Venezuela as meddling into the country's internal affairs, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

Canada and the Lima Group of more than a dozen North and South American countries have backed Guaido as the legitimate replacement for Maduro, who followed left-wing populist Hugo Chavez into Venezuela's presidency after Chavez's death in 2013.

On Monday, he accused Maduro of trying to illicitly transfer up to $1.2 billion from public coffers to a bank in Uruguay. The European Parliament has called on all EU countries to do so. It is time for free and fair elections.

Kirsty Wark talks to Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Andres Mejia - who heads the National Assembly commission - and Eric Farnsworth, a former US State department official and now the Vice President of the Council of the Americas.

But in the interview with Sexta, Maduro said he would not "cave in to pressure" from those calling for his departure. When that expired on Sunday, they announced the diplomatic change.

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Maduro started a new term in office last month after 2018 elections that were branded invalid by the opposition.

In his interview Monday, he supported plans for a meeting of Latin American and European Union states in a "Contact Group" in Montevideo on Thursday, saying it would lead to "dialogue".

The group will also suspend military cooperation with the Venezuelan government and said in a declaration that it will evaluate restricting loans to the Venezuelan government at organizations of which Lima Group countries are members. Madrid was among those to endorse Guaido as the "legitimate leader" of Venezuela.

In Washington, US President Donald Trump warned that military intervention remains "an option" for dealing with the crisis in Venezuela.

Maduro's critics have said incompetent policies and corruption have impoverished the once-wealthy nation, leaving it with widespread shortages of food and medicine and hyperinflation forecast to reach 10 million percent in 2019.

On Monday, oil prices rose to their highest level yet this year on European markets on the back of the crisis in Venezuela.

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