United Kingdom and other European countries recognise Guaidó as Venezuela's leader

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Germany, France, Britain and Spain were among the European Union states to officially endorse Guaido and call for fresh elections in crisis-hit Venezuela. In South America, the 14-nation Lima Group looked set to hold off imposing further sanctions on the Maduro government when it meets in Ottawa.

On January 29, Washington slapped sanctions on the Venezuelan oil producer PDVSA and later transferred control of some of Venezuela's assets in U.S. banks to Guaido.

"Individual EU Member States will acknowledge Mr. Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly, as President ad interim of Venezuela", the proposed joint statement said, calling for "free, fair and democratic presidential elections".

Tens of thousands of people turned out Saturday for competing shows of support for Guaido and for Maduro who was sworn in on January 10 to a disputed second six-year term. In a statement, it accused them of submitting to a US "strategy to overthrow the legitimate government" and singled out Spain for acting "cowardly".

Austria, Sweden and Denmark also recognised Guaido.

The global split over Venezuela has left the United Nations in a quandary and Guterres' comments suggested that the world body would remain on the sidelines for now.

The 35-year-old Guaido, accused by Maduro's government of staging a US -directed coup, has galvanized Venezuela's opposition with a hopeful message.

After several years of opposition efforts to oust Maduro, Guaido declared himself acting president at a rally on January 23.

"Soldiers, we continue to wait for you".

Maduro fired back personally at his global critics during a military exercise in the state of Aragua, east of Caracas.

He has said he is only willing to call new elections to the opposition-held National Assembly.

Portugal's Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said the group wants to end Venezuela's political stalemate through the ballot box, preventing a civil war or an "illegitimate foreign intervention".

Maduro started a new term in office last month after 2018 elections that were branded invalid by the opposition.

"It is only the Venezuelan people that has to decide their future", Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said in a statement.

"If someday there'll be a coup; if there'll be a United States intervention of Venezuela, then, Senior Pedro Sanchez, your hands will be stained in blood forever and history will remember you as a puppet in service of Donald Trump's policy of interference", President Maduro said in an address, broadcast live on his Twitter page.

Last month, the Lima Group announced a travel ban on senior Venezuelan officials and a freeze on their foreign assets.

The European Union has been unable to take a collective position because countries such as Italy and Greece are unwilling to recognise Guadió.

He added: "No, worldwide politics can't be based on ultimatums".

Maduro has rejected a USA -backed effort to send emergency food and medicine into Venezuela.

Guaido accused Maduro's government of trying to move up to $1.2 billion from the state development bank Bandes to a financial entity in Uruguay, but did not present evidence. The United States last week imposed sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA.

Trump warned that military intervention remains "an option" for dealing with the crisis in Venezuela.

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