File Photo: Juan Guaido (C), head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, delivers a speech at the Francisco de Miranda avenue, in Caracas, Venezuela, on Jan. 23, 2019. (Xinhua/Boris Vergara)
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The United States on Thursday continued its diplomatic maneuver around Venezuela amid mixed international opinions over the legitimacy of Venezuela's self-claimed interim president Juan Guaido, who is the South American country's opposition leader.
In a statement issued by Robert Palladino, the State Department's deputy spokesperson, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will, during his upcoming trip to Brussels, meet with European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, to discuss U.S.-EU cooperation on a range of key issues including support for Guaido.
Several separate statements issued by Palladino showed that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan on Thursday met with Spanish Vice Foreign Minister Fernando Venezuela at the State Department. During the meeting, Sullivan emphasized the U.S. support for Guaido in the political crisis in Venezuela.
On Wednesday, Sullivan talked with Peruvian Vice Foreign Minister Hugo de Zela in Washington D.C. over a key role for Peru to play in the Lima Group in supporting the Venezuelan opposition and Guaido, as well as to address the flow of Venezuelan refugees and migrants.
The Lima Group is a multilateral body established in August 2017 to focus on Venezuela's situation.
As its diplomatic efforts stepped up on the Venezuelan crisis, Washington on Thursday said it is imposing a ban on the travel of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly's members to the United States, as part of its campaign to press Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to cede power and leave Venezuela.
Earlier on the same day, Craig Faller, head of the U.S. Southern Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that the U.S. military is ready to protect U.S. personnel and diplomatic facilities in Venezuela if necessary.
The international response to the aggressive interventionism by the United States regarding Venezuela and Guaido's legitimacy has been mixed. On Thursday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it is still waiting for consensus among its member countries on whether to recognize Guaido's legitimacy.
IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice told a press briefing that official recognition is needed before the institution's any financing program for Venezuela could be designed.
"We're following the situation in Venezuela closely and as in all such cases the international community guides official recognition, and we will be guided by that," he said. "Before any other action could be taken by the IMF that step would need to be taken."
"There was a question about ... possible design of a program or assistance," he added. "It would be premature to begin to talk about any specifics because again, we are following the guidance of the international community and that would need to be established."
U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 23 announced the U.S. recognition of Guaido's claim as Venezuela's interim president, which came 10 days after Maduro was inaugurated as president.
Maduro was re-elected in 2018. His first term of presidency began in April 2013.
In response to Washington's support for Guaido, Maduro announced he was severing "diplomatic and political" ties with the United States, ordering all the U.S. diplomatic and consular personnel to leave Venezuela in 72 hours.
For years, the United States has imposed diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions against Venezuela. Right before Maduro's inauguration in January, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on seven Venezuelan individuals and 23 entities, accusing them of involvement in a corruption scheme.