Vatican: Pope willing to help Venezuela talks

Vatican: Pope willing to help Venezuela talks

Vatican: Pope willing to help Venezuela talks

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini arrives for the inaugural meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela, in Montevideo, Uruguay, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (Credit: Matilde Campodonico/AP.)

The Vatican says Pope Francis is willing to see if Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido would agree to Vatican intervention to help relaunch talks with embattled President Nicholas Maduro to try to end the country's political standoff.

CARACAS, Venezuela — The Vatican says Pope Francis is willing to see if Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido would agree to Vatican intervention to help relaunch talks with embattled President Nicholas Maduro to try to end the country’s political standoff.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti issued a statement Thursday after Francis told reporters that he would consider Maduro’s request for Vatican involvement but that the “preliminary condition” for any external mediation was that both sides requested it.

Gisotti said: “The Holy Father has always reserved the possibility, and therefore still reserves the possibility, of verifying the will of both sides to see if the conditions exist to take this step.”

Guaido, who has declared himself interim president, has made clear that any offers of dialogue must start with negotiating the terms of Maduro’s exit.

Meanwhile, a top European Union official is calling for free and transparent presidential elections in Venezuela to bring a peaceful solution to the country’s crisis.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini spoke Thursday in Uruguay’s capital at the inaugural meeting of an “International Contact Group.”

Mogherini says the group holds different views on what led to Venezuela’s crisis and doesn’t seek to impose a solution.

However, she says the countries share the same objective of seeing the country’s crisis peacefully resolved without violence and a foreign intervention.

Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez is leading the meeting attended by leaders of 14 countries, including Spain, Italy, Portugal and Sweden.

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