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Diplomats shun Venezuelan envoy’s speech to UN rights body

February 27, 2019
Venezuela Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza shows picture he said represent opposition members initiating violence, during a meeting on Venezuela in the U.N. Security Council at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Venezuela Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza shows picture he said represent opposition members initiating violence, during a meeting on Venezuela in the U.N. Security Council at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

GENEVA (AP) — Dozens of European and Latin American diplomats abruptly walked out of the U.N.’s top human rights body on Wednesday to protest an address by Venezuela’s foreign minister, where he floated the idea of talks between President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Jorge Arreaza told the U.N. Human Rights Council that the two leaders could seek “common ground” over Venezuela’s escalating crisis — even as he blasted alleged U.S. “aggression” against his country.

“We’re calling for dialogue, dialogue with the United States — why not between Presidents Maduro and Trump?” Arreaza said. “Why shouldn’t they meet so that they could try to find common ground and explain their differences?” He also called for “dialogue between Venezuelan citizens.”

More than 50 other countries have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. Many of their diplomats — admittedly low-level — stormed out of the room just as Arreaza arrived to speak to the 47-member council.

The United States is among the countries that have recognized Guaido, but no U.S. diplomats were present for the walkout on Wednesday: The Trump administration quit the council last summer over its alleged anti-Israel bias.

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