UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will address the United Nations Security Council next week on Venezuela, a White House official said on Friday, as the 15-member body remains deadlocked over how to deal with the country’s political and humanitarian crisis.
FILE PHOTO – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a meeting at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Advanced Training Facility in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
The United States has sought United Nations support for its backing of opposition leader Juan Guaido as the rightful president of Venezuela. Most Western nations have recognized Guaido as head of state, while Russia and China have stood by socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
“Given the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country, we believe a briefing is necessary and timely,” the U.S. mission to the United Nations wrote in a request, seen by Reuters, for a meeting next week.
The meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, diplomats said.
Pence’s address will shine a global spotlight on the issue, but action by the Security Council is unlikely. The United States and Russia both failed in rival bids to get the body to adopt resolutions on Venezuela in February.
The United Nations estimates about a quarter of Venezuelans are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to an internal U.N. report seen by Reuters last week, that paints a dire picture of millions of people lacking food and basic services.
Maduro has said there is no crisis and blames U.S. sanctions for the country’s economic problems. In February Venezuelan government troops blocked U.S.-backed aid convoys entering from Colombia and Brazil. Maduro has accepted aid from ally Russia.
Moscow has also provided military assistance to Maduro’s government.
The White House warned Moscow and other countries backing Maduro against sending troops and military equipment, saying the United States would view such actions as a “direct threat” to the region’s security.
Russia has dismissed U.S. criticism of its military cooperation with Caracas, saying it is not interfering in the Latin American country’s internal affairs and poses no threat to regional stability.
Guaido invoked the Venezuelan constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Roberta Rampton; editing by Mary Milliken, Tom Brown and Richard Chang