Seasoned diplomat appointed EU’s special envoy for Venezuela

MADRID (AP) — The European Union stepped up its push for a new presidential election in Venezuela as a way out of the crisis by appointing a former international banker and seasoned diplomat Tuesday as the bloc’s special envoy for the country.

Enrique Iglesias is a former Uruguayan foreign minister who went on to head the Inter-American Development Bank and SEGIB, a Madrid-based international organization representing Latin American countries as well as Spain and Portugal.

He was appointed as the EU’s special envoy for Venezuela by the bloc’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini. With Iglesias’ dual Uruguayan-Spanish nationality and long experience in Latin American affairs, European diplomats believe he is well positioned to talk to both the government of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition.

The goal for his appointment is “to contribute to a peaceful and democratic solution to the Venezuelan crisis and as a follow-up to discussions held in the context of the International Contact Group,” an EU statement said.

Eight European countries, including Germany, Spain and Britain, as well as Bolivia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Uruguay in Latin America are part of the group.

Its mission to Caracas earlier this month met separately with both Maduro and Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader recognized as the interim president of Venezuela by dozens of countries, including the United States.

The International Contact Ggroup says that rather than mediating, it is working to set conditions for a fair and transparent presidential election and safe delivery of humanitarian aid. It has come out as a strong supporter of talks that representatives of Maduro and Guaidó have been holding in Oslo.

A senior EU official told The Associated Press that the bloc saw talks in the Norwegian capital as “complementary” and “aligned” with the work of the ICG.

The official, who was not authorized to be named in media reports, added that the EU is open to provide support to possible accords that may emerge from the Oslo process.