Russian FM upholds dialogue between Venezuelan government, opposition

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Russia's foreign ministry says U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's state oil firm, PDVSA, violate international law. PDVSA is the parent company of Citgo, which owns refineries and gas stations across the United States. Rough cut (no reporter naration)

DUSHANBE, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) — Moscow believes that only direct talks between the Venezuelan government and the opposition may pave the way to a settlement of the crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

“Otherwise, there will be another regime change, like many in which the West has been engaged. There has not been a single country that benefited from the regime change,” Lavrov told college students in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.

He recalled that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has repeatedly expressed his readiness for dialogue, but opposition leader Juan Guaido categorically refuses to engage in talks.

Lavrov said Moscow considers the situation in Venezuela “alarming” particularly because of the recognition of Guaido as interim president by a range of countries.

The Russian top diplomat called this a gross violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.

Maduro was reelected in May 2018 and was sworn in as president on Jan. 10 for another six-year term.

Alleging that the Maduro administration is illegitimate, Guaido, who was the head of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president during an antigovernment rally on Jan. 23.

The United States, among some other countries, has recognized Guaido’s presidency, and U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that “all options are on the table.”

Maduro, in response, announced the severing of diplomatic and political ties with the United States.

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