European Union states move to recognize Venezuela's Guaido: diplomats

Opposition leader Juan Guaido greets a patient outside the University Hospital of Venezuela's Central University in Caracas

Opposition leader Juan Guaido greets a patient outside the University Hospital of Venezuela's Central University in Caracas

Russia, which like China has loaned and invested billions of dollars in Opec member Venezuela, called on Mr Guaido - who has declared himself interim president - to drop his demand for a snap election and accept mediation.

Venezuela's opposition supporters will hold rallies across the country on Saturday to show backing for self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido and to protest against the increasingly isolated socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has proposed holding early elections for the National Assembly as he seeks to outmaneuver a renewed opposition that is trying to use its control of the legislature to challenge his rule.

Meanwhile, California-based Chevron Corp. said its operations in Venezuela will continue normally for the "foreseeable future" despite newly imposed US sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

"Today is the anniversary of 20 years of work, fight, advances and important achievements, despite the difficulties and imperial conspiracies", the president said on twitter.

The Trump administration issued a stern warning to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday after reports emerged of "last-minute looting" by Russian Federation and other countries of gold and oil - and "egregious" acts of intimidation against opposition leader Juan Guaido.

"The United States will continue to assert all diplomatic pressure to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy", Pence said, then paused to say his next words slowly, and bluntly.

The political fight between Maduro and Guaido has drawn in foreign powers.

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in in Caracas, Venezuela February 1, 2019.

The 56-year-old was re-elected last May in voting boycotted by the majority of the opposition and dismissed as fraudulent by the United States, European Union and Organization of American States (OAS).

"We are not just taking aid from the United States", Guaido said. This is time for action, & the time has come to end the Maduro dictatorship!

Yanez, who is strategic planning director of the air force high command, asserted that "90 percent of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces is not with the dictator, it's with the Venezuelan people".

The U.S. DOS (Department of State) stated in a statement that it will not extradite American diplomats as it did not consider the Maduro regime as the administration of Venezuela.

Italian daily La Stampa asked Guaido in an interview in Caracas what the Vatican or the pope could do to avoid a worsening of Venezuela's political crisis. "We started to make noise", he said. "We don't know. We don't know because this man (Maduro) doesn't want to leave and is very defiant".

"We are going to stage the biggest march in the history of Venezuela and our continent", he added.

But the USA government rejects recent suggestions that Uruguay, Mexico, or the Vatican should play a mediating role between Maduro and Guaido, the official said.

Earlier, European lawmakers recognized Guaido as the acting head of state - another step forward in his bid to force out the socialist leader who has presided over the oil-rich country's economic collapse.

Jazairy's office has taken funds from donors including Russian Federation, one of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's staunchest supporters.

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