High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela, at the Executive Tower, in Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, on Feb. 7, 2019. Some 13 countries and the European Union (EU) gathered in Montevideo on Thursday to promote a "peaceful and democratic solution" to the Venezuelan crisis, said an EU senior diplomat. (Xinhua/Nicolas Celaya)
MONTEVIDEO, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Some 13 countries and the European Union (EU) gathered in Montevideo on Thursday to promote a "peaceful and democratic solution" to the Venezuelan crisis, said an EU senior diplomat.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting of the International Contact Group on Venezuela, Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, underscored the importance of avoiding violence and armed conflicts.
"We may have different points of view and understandings of the causes of this crisis, but we share a similar objective: to contribute to a political, peaceful and democratic solution," said Mogherini.
"It is the only possible outcome if we want to avoid more suffering and a chaotic and dangerous process," the diplomat added.
She made the remarks amid repeated threats from the United States, which backs the right-wing opposition in Venezuela and expressed willingness to consider a military option to oust President Nicolas Maduro and the ruling socialist party.
"An international initiative is important to accompany a peaceful and democratic way out of the current crisis through free, transparent and credible presidential elections," said Mogherini.
Political tensions in Venezuela between the government and opposition groups came to a head after Maduro was sworn in to a new term on Jan. 10.
Alleging that the Maduro administration is illegitimate, opposition leader Juan Guaido, who was head of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president during an anti-government rally on Jan. 23.
Present at the meeting were representatives from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Britain, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay, as well as the EU.
The gathering was originally proposed by Uruguay and Mexico on Jan. 30 to promote a negotiated solution to the political dispute and head off armed conflict in the region.
No Venezuelan officials or opposition leaders participated in the meeting.
According to Mogherini, the contact group should first reach "a common understanding" on "a political transition process" for the South American country, and channel humanitarian assistance to Venezuelans in need.