0511 GMT February 25, 2018
“The issue is about meddling with the internal domestic affairs of Venezuela,” Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters, adding that he hoped the country could settle its issues peacefully without any external interference, Reuters reported.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the meeting: “The fact that the (Venezuelan) government would go so far as to try and get people not to show up to a meeting is guilt. And that’s unfortunate.”
Venezuela is suffering from a harsh economic crisis.
Dozens of people have died in violence since the opposition began a sustained wave of protests in April. Met by rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas fired by the National Guard, the protesters say the crisis demands an early presidential election that they are sure President Nicolas Maduro would lose.
His popularity has been pounded lower by triple-digit inflation and acute food and medicine shortages.
“We received pressure from regional partners not to have this meeting,” Haley said. “This goal is not to degrade anyone. This is not to humiliate a region. This is only to lift up the region.”
Uruguay’s Deputy UN Ambassador Luis Bermudez attended the UN meeting, but said his country did not believe the situation in Venezuela was a threat to international peace and security.
Venezuela’s UN Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez spoke to reporters as the meeting was being held, flanked by Nebenzia, Chinese Deputy UN Ambassador Wu Haitao and Bolivian UN Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Soliz.
“The meeting is a hostile and clearly interfering act of the United States that undermines the principle of sovereignty of a member state of the UN,” Ramirez said. “We condemn this act of political manipulation.”
European Union foreign ministers approved economic sanctions, including an arms embargo, on Venezuela on Monday, saying regional elections last month marred by reported irregularities had deepened the country’s crisis.
The United States has also imposed targeted sanctions on top Venezuelan officials.
The UN Security Council also met behind closed doors in May, at Washington’s request, to discuss the crisis in Venezuela.