Venezuelan FM visits anti-US allies in Mideast
BEIRUT (AP) — Venezuela's foreign minister, meeting with anti-U.S. allies in the Middle East, said Wednesday that opposition leader Juan Guaidó is in breach of the constitution and that the judiciary has to "take care" of it.
Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, loyal to President Nicolas Maduro, has stripped Guaidó of his immunity, putting him at risk of arrest for supposedly violating the constitution when he declared himself interim president in January.
"He is in breach of most part of the constitution, so the judiciary has to take care of those who violated the Venezuelan law," Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told reporters in Beirut.
The United States and roughly 50 other nations recognize Guaidó as Venezuela's interim leader, asserting that Maduro's re-election last year was illegitimate.
Arreaza met with Lebanon's president and foreign minister in Beirut. He is expected to meet with an official from the Hezbollah militant group before traveling onward to Syria.
Maduro's government has warm relations with Syria and its allies in Lebanon, all of which are opposed to U.S. policies.
Russia, a major backer of Syria, and China, which has invested heavily in Venezuela's oil industry, back Maduro.
Last weekend, a Russian aircraft carrying military officials and equipment arrived in Caracas and is believed to have flown via Syria, according to Flightradar24, a flight-tracking site. Russian officials have scoffed at U.S. demands to withdraw military personnel, saying their presence in Venezuela is fully legitimate.
In December, Russia sent two Tu-160 strategic bombers to Venezuela for several days in a demonstration of support for Maduro, who has rejected demands from the United States and dozens of other countries that he resign.
"We have had cooperation, military and technical cooperation with Russia for almost 17 years, and it's just developing as it should," Arreaza said. "The only interference we have had for 20 years, every day of every week of every month of every year, is from the United States."