United Kingdom and other European countries recognise Guaidó as Venezuela's leader

Venezuela's opposition chief Juan Guaido

"We are in permanent contact with the governments of Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Germany".

Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Austria and Denmark all announced they recognize Guaido as the country's president, which came after embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro rejected calls for new elections.

Most Lima Group members have said Maduro should quit in favour of Guaido and have called for a new election.

Venezuela has as many as 2,000 generals, according to unofficial estimates, many of whom do not command troops and whose defection would not necessarily weaken the ruling socialists. "It is, definitely, the people of Venezuela who have to decide its future".

"Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically", French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the United Kingdom was looking at options to help expedite peace and democracy in Venezuela, including the use of sanctions.

Two opposition rivals with a good chance of winning were barred from standing, while food handouts and other subsidies to hungry Venezuelans were linked with political support.

"We want to see free and fair elections for the people to make a democratic decision in Venezuela", Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.

Freeland said Guaido's interim authority is meant to be used exclusively to order free and fair elections to return Venezuela to democracy.

"We are looking at what further steps we can take to ensure peace and democracy in Venezuela, including through sanctions".

Speaking to reporters in Brussels after a meeting of European Union foreign affairs ministers, top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini said that "the EU and its member states never recognised as legitimate the presidential elections that were held a year ago [in Venezuela]".

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Maduro has rejected all offers of aid, dismissing it as the thin edge of a wedge of USA military involvement. "We recognise as the legitimate institution in the country the National Assembly and recognize the role of its president".

The 14-nation so-called Lima Group, which includes Canada and Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico but not the United States, met in Ottawa to discuss the way forward on Venezuela.

Maduro's government, overseeing an economic collapse that has prompted 3 million Venezuelans to flee the country, lashed out at the European Union nations, saying their move would affect relations with Caracas.

On Monday, Guaido said the European Union needed "to act in unison so that the forces, who are still supporting Maduro feel all the weight of Europe's diplomatic and political pressure".

The Government, it said, will "completely revise bilateral relations with those countries from now on".

"I call to reject intervention", he said, urging the soldiers to defend the country against "Yankee imperialism". You are making mistakes that will leave your hands covered in blood.

"From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said as he announced Madrid had recognised Guaido, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly who declared himself last month to be the oil-rich South American country's interim ruler.

"We need more and more pressure on the top of the army corps, and in the top of the political dictatorship", Viera-Blanco said.

Russian Federation and China, who have poured billions of dollars of investment and loans into Venezuela, are supporting Mr Maduro in an extension of their geopolitical tussle with the United States.

Latin America is far from Russian Federation, and Venezuela is impoverished, surrounded by hostile neighbors and squarely in the crosshairs of the Trump administration.

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