Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolás Maduro, has rejected an international ultimatum to call elections within eight days, and said the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, had violated the country’s constitution by declaring himself leader.
In an interview with CNN Türk aired on Sunday, Maduro also said he was open to dialogue and that meeting the US president, Donald Trump, was improbable but not impossible. The broadcaster dubbed the interview from Spanish into Turkish.
On Saturday, Washington, which has recognised Guaidó as leader, urged the world to “ pick a side ” on Venezuela and financially disconnect from Maduro’s government.
Venezuela has sunk into turmoil under Maduro, with food shortages and protests. The country’s economic and political crisis has prompted mass emigration, and inflation is predicted to rise to 10 million per cent this year.
Britain, Germany, France and Spain all said they would recognise Guaidó if Maduro failed to call fresh elections within eight days, an ultimatum Russia said was “absurd” and the Venezuelan foreign minister called “childlike”.
The US, Canada, most Latin American nations and many European states labelled Maduro’s second-term election win last May fraudulent.
Maduro retains the loyalty of the armed forces, though Venezuela’s top military envoy to the US defected to Guaidó on Saturday.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had voiced his support for Maduro in a phone call on Thursday.