US tells European Union to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela president

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Mr Maduro importantly retains the support of the Venezuelan military, plus Russian Federation and China internationally.

Pence said that after the United States became the first nation to recognise the parliamentary leader as head of state, "52 nations including 30 of our European allies have followed America's lead".

Guaido and Maduro have been locked in a battle over allowing aid into the country, and the military reinforced a blockade on Thursday at the border with Colombia, where the opposition leader has vowed to bring in desperately-needed goods.

The country is in the midst of an economic crisis that has left millions in poverty and facing shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

Guaido has targeted February 23 for entry of the aid, more of which arrived for the stockpile on Saturday.

"We are saving lives with these aeroplanes", said Lestor Toledo, an exiled politician who is coordinating the global aid effort for Guaido.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday that the U.S. used military aircraft to send aid to the Venezuelan border in Colombia because of the urgency of the humanitarian needs.

And Russia's United States ambassador says Moscow is "very much concerned that some hotheads may be considering a military action against Venezuela".

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Twenty-five countries have pledged $100m in aid to Venezuela, a top USA official said on Thursday, as the crisis-hit country's Supreme Court took aim at oil executives appointed by the opposition. He calls it a provocation that may "lead to something much worse than that".

Meanwhile, billionaire adventurer Richard Branson says he is throwing a concert in a campaign to raise US$100 million for suffering Venezuelans and open the borders to emergency aid.

Cucuta, a border city that has been near the epicenter of Venezuela's migrant crisis, has been designated as one of several collection points in the opposition's aid strategy.

In addition to the aid arriving in Colombia, Guaido said, more would be coming through Brazil and the Caribbean island of Curacao.

Branson says he's working with Guaido and to break Maduro's impasse so the aid can reach millions of Venezuelans who need it.

He also blamed the USA for preventing political dialogue with the opposition, saying it is a mistake, and President Donald Trump made this mistake because of his advisors.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized by countries including Canada and the the country's rightful interim ruler, speaks Saturday during a meeting with volunteers to co-ordinate humanitarian aid in Caracas.

Trump is to spend the holiday weekend at his private club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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