French President Emmanuel Macron has held talks with Venezuelan opposition leaders who are on a European tour aimed at exerting pressure on the embattled Caracas government.
Macron received the Venezuelan opposition delegation at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on Monday.
Hours after the meeting, Macron’s office issued a statement, suggesting that he was prepared to press for European sanctions against the administration of Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro.
Macron censured what he called the repression of Venezuela
’s US-backed opposition, saying France was ready to launch European discussions “toward adopting measures targeting those responsible for this situation.”
He did not, however, offer any details as to what actions he had in mind.
Earlier in the day, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said he had filed complaints with the ambassadors of France and three other European countries planning to meet with the Venezuelan opposition figures during their European tour for interference in the nation’s internal affairs.
“These types of expressions are absurd and offensive to the functioning of Venezuelan democracy and its institutions,” Arreaza said.
The developments came two days after a Venezuelan activist was barred from leaving the country in order to join the opposition European tour.
A number of foreign nations, including Spain and Britain, whose leaders are expected to meet with members of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly this week, have slammed the move by Caracas to prevent opposition figure Lilian Tintori from leaving Venezuela to join the European tour by the opposition lawmakers.
No official explanation has been given for why Tintori was barred from traveling, but it came a day after she was ordered to appear before a judge to respond to legal inquires about a large sum of cash found in her vehicle.
Those who did make the trip are also due to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
President of Venezuela’s National Assembly Julio Borges and the legislature’s first vice president Freddy Guevara are proceeding with meetings scheduled this week with European leaders in an attempt to intensify pressure on Maduro to meet their demands back home.
The oil-rich but impoverished country has been convulsed by months of deadly protests against the government in Caracas.
The unrest, which first broke out in April, has so far led to the death of at least 120 people from the two sides.
Maduro described the move as illegal and designed to “asphyxiate” the Venezuelan economy and push the oil-rich nation into default.
He also says the United States and its allies in the region are fomenting instability to bring down his government.