US urges Europeans to recognize Venezuela's Guaido

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president after Nicolas Maduro was inaugurated to a new term following elections widely seen as unfair (AFP Photo/Federico Parra )

Washington (AFP) - The United States on Thursday called on European countries to move quickly to recognize Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president ahead of a deadline by major EU states.

Kimberly Breier, the US assistant secretary of state in charge of Latin America, welcomed a vote Thursday to recognize Guaido by the European Parliament, although the move does not change EU policy.

"We certainly encourage all the governments in Europe to support the people of Venezuela and the transitional government in Venezuela by recognizing Guaido as interim president," Breier told European reporters in a telephone press briefing.

She said that more than 20 countries had recognized Guaido, who last week declared himself acting president after Nicolas Maduro was inaugurated to a new term following elections widely seen as unfair.

Besides the United States, major Western Hemisphere powers including Brazil, Canada and Argentina have followed suit.

Four major European powers -- Britain, France, Germany and Spain -- have set a deadline of this weekend for Maduro to call new elections, failing which they will recognize Guaido.

Maduro has said he is willing to negotiate with the opposition and even offered to bring forward legislative elections -- but has dismissed the idea of a new presidential poll.

The European position is not unanimous with Greece's ruling leftist Syriza party pledging support for Maduro, who also enjoys the backing of Russia and China.