In a Tuesday phone call initiated by the Iranian side, Zarif and Lavrov discussed the latest developments unfolding in Venezuela, which has been grappling with a political crisis since January, Xinhua quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying in a brief statement on Tuesday.
The top Iranian and Russian diplomats expressed their “readiness to contribute, on the basis of the principles of the UN Charter, to the efforts of the international community to find mutual understanding between the responsible political forces of Venezuela,” it added.
According to the statement, these efforts should help ensure Venezuela’s internal peace and lead to a swift resolution of the “pressing social and economic” issues in the Latin American country.
The Latin American country is in the midst of a political crisis, which broke out in late January after opposition politician and president of the defunct National Assembly Juan Guaido abruptly declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela, challenging the outcome of last year’s presidential election in which President Nicolas Maduro emerged victorious.
Guaido’s bid was quickly recognized by the US followed by dozens of its regional and European allies. Washington slapped sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector in support of the opposition figure and went as far as threatening a military option to topple the Caracas government.
On the other camp, Iran, Russia, Turkey and China, among other states, have voiced support for the elected Venezuelan government. The UN has also said it would only work with the Maduro-led administration.
Maduro has censured Guaido’s moves as a coup attempt masterminded by the US against his government, calling on the opposition figure to abandon his coup-mongering strategies and engage, instead, in negotiations with the Caracas government.
During a speech at the presidential palace in the capital Caracas on Friday, Maduro said he has authorized the formation of a new military unit tasked with protecting the country’s key infrastructure following the recent nationwide blackout.
He also plans a “deep restructuring” of his government to protect the state against the political crisis.
Maduro has repeatedly accused Washington of masterminding a “coup” against his government, blaming the US for the economic crisis in Venezuela.
In a phone conversation with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza late in January, Zarif said the Islamic Republic supports the legal government in Venezuela and the country’s people in the face of all plots, particularly those hatched by the United States.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif says Tehran supports the legal government in Venezuela in the face of all plots.
Lavrov had in January censured Washington’s “destructive” policy on Venezuela, called on its opposition “not to be pawns in someone else’s dirty game.”
‘Russia warns US against military intervention in Venezuela’
On Wednesday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow had expressed concerns over the American sanctions on Venezuela during a round of talks in Rome, Italy.
Moscow, he added, also warned the US against using aid delivery to Venezuelans as a pretext to militarily intervene in the country.
The Russian official also said his country is continuing to offer its services as an intermediary in Venezuela talks, calling on Guaido to take this issue seriously.
During the talks, the two sides failed to narrow their positions on Venezuela, but Moscow now better understands Washington’s stance, Ryabkov said, describing the discussions as difficult but frank.