European allies recognise Juah Guiado as Venezuelan president

UK recognises Juan Guaido as interim President of Venezuela

"We are not beggars", Maduro said in a speech to troops broadcast on Venezuelan state TV.

"Stop. Stop, Trump! Hold it right there!" You are making mistakes that will leave your hands covered in blood.

The 35-year-old Guaido, accused by Maduro's government of staging a USA -directed coup, has galvanized Venezuela's opposition with a hopeful message.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on a two-day visit to Japan, said at a news conference that "we recognize Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela, tasked with starting the political transition and leading the country to free, transparent and credible elections". She rejected any suggestion that Canada or the Lima Group are fomenting an armed overthrow of the Maduro regime.

Already recognized by the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and several Latin American countries, Guaido is trying to force the socialist leader from power, aiming to set up a transitional government and hold new presidential elections.

In Europe, undeniably the most outspoken political leader against Maduro was Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

"Individual EU Member States will acknowledge Mr. Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly, as President ad interim of Venezuela", the proposed joint statement said, calling for "free, fair and democratic presidential elections".

He said Spain, which has a sizable Venezuelan community, also is working on a humanitarian aid program for Venezuela, where shortages of basic items are acute.

U.S. President Donald Trump said military intervention in Venezuela was "an option" as Western nations boost pressure on socialist leader Nicolas Maduro to step down, while the troubled OPEC nation's ally Russian Federation warned against "destructive meddling". "Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically", he wrote on Twitter.

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Guaido has won backing from the United States, European powers including France, Germany and Spain, Canada, Australia and a dozen Latin American countries to take over the leadership, but Russian Federation and China continue to support Maduro. She added that she hoped Guaido would initiate those elections as "quickly as possible".

All eyes are now on Venezuela's military, which has so far been Maduro's main pillar of support, but there have been signs of unrest in the ranks. "I tend to be an optimist; in this case, I do not have particularly positive expectations", European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters on Friday in Bucharest, as she announced the bloc could consider new sanctions against Maduro.

The situation has always been denounced by the opposition and Guaido stunned the world on January 23 when he declared himself acting president at a rally, declaring Maduro's presidency "illegitimate" and founded on flawed elections.

Some of the EU countries backing Guaido are part of a newly formed "International Contact Group" of eight European and four Latin American nations.

Such intervention "does not contribute in any way to a peaceful, effective and vital settlement to the crisis that Venezuelans are enduring", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.

Central and South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru followed, as did the head of the Organization of American States, Uruguayan Luis Almagro.

Maduro then continued his accusations against the Trump administration, which he claims is preparing a coup and that "the military option is on [President] Donald Trump's table".

Peruvian Foreign Minister Nestor Francisco Popolizio Bardalen said the emboldened Venezuelan opposition "represents the beginning of the end of the dictatorship".

Mexico and Uruguay have not recognized Guaido, the head of the National Assembly who declared himself acting president on January 23 in place of Maduro.

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