The International Contact Group and the Lima Group met for the first time today to discuss the ongoing developments in Venezuela. The meting took place in New York City, and was notable given that the two groups represent the most coherent examples of the international diplomatic response to the situation in Venezuela.
The International Contact Group on Venezuela is an initiative led by the European Union that was established in late January of this year. Some of its members include France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Bolivia. The Lima Group was formed in August 2017, and is made up of countries from the Americas, including Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador.
Following the meeting, the two groups issued a joint statement, part of which reads:
The meeting followed both groups’ decision to increase contacts with a view to contribute to a political, peaceful and democratic solution to the Venezuelan crisis. They agreed that while the solution needs to be a Venezuelan one, the regional impact of the crisis requires the region and the international community to play a more active role in supporting a prompt return to democracy in Venezuela.
According to the statement, both groups stressed their “commitment to a peaceful transition leading to free and fair elections”, as well as their continued support for the opposition-controlled National Assembly. The statement also calls for the release of all political prisoners held by the Maduro regime.
The statement concludes with the following:
The Lima Group and the International Contact Group concurred on the gravity of the humanitarian situation, including the migration crisis, and committed to continue providing humanitarian assistance to the Venezuelan population and affected neighbouring countries in line with the internationally agreed principles. They expressed their support to the UN coordinated response and underlined the need to scale up the international support and make sure that humanitarian actors are able to deliver their assistance without restrictions or political interference.
Peru to Host International Summit on Venezuela
The government of Peru announced today that it will host an international summit later this year to address the situation in Venezuela. The news came from Nestor Popolizio, the Peruvian minister of foreign affairs.
Popolizio said that he hoped that there will be a “good” level of participation, that invitations were already being sent out, and that the summit will take place some time in the first two weeks of August.
On the point of the summit, Popolizio said:
We’re going to look at way to continue to support this whole international process to isolate the Maduro regime.
Popolizio was also in attendance today in the meeting between the International Contact Group and the Lima Group, and said that it was an “extremely positive” encounter.
The minister also revealed that one of the decisions that the groups made during the meeting was to reach out to all “relevant actors” who might be able to help resolve the crisis in the country, including the governments of China and Russia. He said:
This means that we’re going to establish contact with Russia, Chinese, and Cuban authorities… to see what measures we can all take to undertake this process which must conclude with free and fair elections.
SOUTHCOM, Trump Address WSJ Story on Russian Pullback from Venezuela
The United States Southern Command and president Donald Trump tweeted today about a reported draw-down of Russian presence in Venezuela contained in an article in the Wall Street Journal article published yesterday.
The U.S. Southern Command posted the following on its Twitter account:
President Trump was less clear in his tweet about his source of information, but given the timing of the message it is very likely that it was the Wall Street Journal article. Trump tweeted:
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