France says Venezuela's Maduro ignoring calls for election

PARIS (Reuters) - France said on Wednesday that Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro appeared not to be heeding calls for new presidential elections and that European foreign ministers would discuss next steps in Bucharest on Thursday.

France, along with other European Union members, said on Saturday they would recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's rightful leader if Maduro failed to call a new vote within eight days.

"We asked ... for Maduro to announce presidential elections which would be monitored by the international community. It seems that he's against this, so, if that's the case, we would like Guaido to take up this initiative."

Maduro is facing the biggest challenge to his rule since replacing Hugo Chavez six years ago. A French diplomatic source said that two French reporters covering the turmoil had been arrested and that the French Embassy was seeking their release.

"Our Embassy has requested consular protection in accordance with the Vienna Convention and in particular the right of access," the source said.

The reporters were working for daily television program Quotidien, part of the TF1 television network. TF1 declined to comment.

(Reporting by John Irish and Elizabeth Pineau; editing by Richard Lough)