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The Latest: China says dialogue only way to Venezuela peace

February 9, 2019
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Supporters of President Nicolas Maduro sing a song about Venezuela's late president Hugo Chavez, during a event at Bolivar Square in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Trucks carrying U.S. humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela arrived Thursday at the Colombian border, where opposition leaders vowed to bring them into their troubled nation despite objections from embattled President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CUCUTA, Colombia (AP) — The Latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

China says peaceful dialogue and political means are the “only way” toward enduring peace in Venezuela and says it backs multinational efforts toward that end.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying’s statement comes in response to a question about a meeting Thursday of an “International Contact Group” led by Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and attended by leaders of 14 countries, including Spain, Italy, Portugal and Sweden.

China is a close ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, to whom it has lent billions to help shore up his embattled regime.

Hua said China “believes that Venezuela’s affairs should be resolved by the Venezuelan people under the framework of its constitution and laws and through peaceful dialogue and political means. This is the only way toward enduring peace in the country.”

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1:40 p.m.

Former Venezuelan diplomat Isaias Medina, who broke with President Nicolas Maduro in July 2017, says he strongly supports the courage of opposition leader Juan Guaido and wants the Trump administration to keep the military option on the table.

Medina told a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York: “I think we need the strength of the U.S., Brazil, Colombia.”

He said Venezuela is now experiencing the worst situation of any country in Latin America, with thousands dead and dying due to a lack of food and medicine.

“The main objective here is to bring humanitarian assistance— and if it must be done by military support, so be it,” he said.

“It’s not military intervention — it’s international humanitarian intervention,” Medina added, noting that his grandfather was president of Venezuela during World War II and opposed the Nazis.

“I am not only saying that Maduro is a threat to the maintenance of peace of the region,” he said. “He is a clear and present danger and a risk to the national security of the United States. This is a very anti-Western, anti-democratic, anti-American regime.”

Medina previously served as a legal adviser at Venezuela’s U.N. Mission.

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1:25 p.m.

A Venezuelan Supreme Court justice says the constitution does not include language for forming a transitional government as opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido claims.

Justice Juan Mendoza read a statement Friday on state TV saying that steps Guaido has taken are therefore null.

Guaido in late January declared that he had a constitutional right to assume the presidency, vowing to oust President Nicolas Maduro and restore democracy.

Justice Mendoza says Guaido is usurping presidential powers.

The pro-Maduro Supreme Court has already barred Guaido from leaving the country and frozen his bank accounts while prosecutors investigate what they call his anti-government activities.

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11:45 a.m.

U.S. humanitarian aid destined for Venezuela is now sitting in a warehouse on the Colombian border.

The goods stored at the border city of Cucuta, which is just across the river from Venezuela, consist of corn, flour, lentils and cans of tuna.

Volunteers hustled about as they filled up white sacks with the food and other items from boxes marked with the words USAID.

Venezuela’s opposition is vowing to deliver the aid to the South American country, but no timeline has been released.

The border bridge near where the aid is being stored has been blocked by the Venezuelan military.

President Nicolas Maduro has said Venezuela isn’t a nation of “beggars” and won’t accept the U.S. humanitarian assistance.

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6:15 a.m.

An international group of parliamentarians is urging Venezuela’s government to stop the “ongoing harassment” of opposition lawmakers and denouncing “intimidation” of 60 parliamentarians — including 40 who have allegedly faced physical attacks.

The Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union, which counts 178 parliaments as members, says it’s also monitoring the impact of a Venezuelan Supreme Court decision “ordering a blanket investigation into possible criminal conduct by members of the National Assembly.”

Rogier Huizenga, secretary of the IPU’s human rights committee, expressed concern the opposition-controlled Assembly is “being ill-treated.”

Opposition leader Juan Guaido has declared himself interim president in Venezuela, a move recognized by several dozen countries, but Preside11:15 nt Nicolas Maduro is refusing to relinquish power.

Huizenga said Friday that the committee has asked to send a mission to Venezuela, and has seen informal signs that this might be agreed.

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5:50 a.m.

Romania’s president has officially recognized Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president almost a week after other European Union countries recognized him.

President Klaus Iohannis said Friday that Romania had decided to join other EU countries and allies in recognizing Guaido partly because Bucharest currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency. Iohannis, in charge of the country’s foreign policy, said Romania needed to have “quick, fundamental and firm reactions” to international developments.

Several EU countries, including Spain, Germany, Britain and France, had given Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government an eight-day deadline to call a new presidential election. The deadline expired Sunday and they recognized Guaido as interim president.

Guaido, who heads the opposition-led National Assembly, declared himself Venezuela’s legitimate ruler on Jan. 23. He has the support of Washington and most South American nations.