(Bloomberg) -- Spain, the U.K. and Germany are among nations pushing the European Union to recognize Juan Guaido “as president ad interim of Venezuela,” according to a draft communique obtained by Bloomberg, in the latest move by the west to isolate President Nicolas Maduro.
Foreign ministers from the EU’s 28 countries discussed the statement at an informal meeting in Bucharest on Thursday and Friday, and only Italy objected to the wording, according to a diplomat familiar with the matter. If efforts to reach consensus on the wording fail, then the governments that agree may separately issue the statement as soon as Sunday, according to the diplomat, who declined to be identified talking about private discussions.
The draft communique is also backed by Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark.
In recognizing Guaido, the EU nations would be following the U.S. and more than a dozen other nations, adding to pressure on Maduro to step down. He’s accused of rigging his re-election last year and leading the once-rich country into ruinous poverty.
The political crisis in oil-rich Venezuela has set down worldwide battle lines, with a U.S.-led group of nations that recognize Guaido as interim president facing countries such as Russia and China that support Maduro. The EU has been edging toward the U.S. position while stopping short of accepting Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as leader.
A week ago, the EU called on Maduro to move “over the next days” toward elections and dangled the prospect of recognizing Guaido as interim president in the absence of any announcement on a new ballot. On Thursday, the EU threatened to expand its blacklist of Maduro allies who are subject to asset freezes and travel bans.
The EU has had sanctions in place against Venezuela since November 2017, which include an embargo on arms as well as a travel ban and asset freeze on 18 officials responsible for human-rights violations.
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