United Nations, United States, Sep 18 – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday ruled out meeting Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido if he attends next week’s General Assembly, despite the support he has among most Western and Latin American nations.
“No, that’s not being planned,” the UN chief told a news conference about the annual global summit when asked if he would meet Guaido.
He added, however, that the United Nations maintained “regular contact” with Venezuela’s opposition.
More than 50 nations recognize Guaido as the interim president, but leftist leader Nicolas Maduro’s government holds Venezuela’s UN seat and enjoys backing from Security Council members Russia and China.
Guterres said that the United Nations will not be the setting for negotiations between Maduro and the opposition.
But he voiced hope for a resumption of dialogue between the government and opposition sponsored by Norway, which broke down last month.
Maduro, who presides over a crumbling economy that has caused millions to flee the oil-producing nation, is not scheduled to travel to New York for the General Assembly.
But his government plans to present signatures of Venezuelans to denounce US President Donald Trump over economic sanctions.
US officials and opposition leaders have already attacked the petition, and accused the Maduro government of threatening to withhold badly needed food aid for Venezuelans who do not sign.
Guaido, in turn, has said he will send a delegation to the UN General Assembly to denounce Maduro’s alleged support for former FARC rebels in neighboring Colombia.
Two dissidents from the demobilized rebel group, Ivan Marquez and Jesus Santrich, have announced a return to arms.
The United Nations took the lead in the 2016 agreement in which the FARC laid down its arms and ended half a century of war, with the world body recently renewing a verification mission in Colombia for one year.
“I will use this summit to talk about everything with Venezuela and Colombia because I think it’s very important to avoid an escalation of conflict in the region,” Guterres said.