France denies hosting Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido in Caracas

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FILE PHOTO: President of the National Assembly and Leader of the Opposition of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, whom many countries have recognized as the country’s legitimate interim leader, gestures as he speaks during a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 10, 2020. REUTERS / Manaure Quintero / File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – France denied on Friday that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido had taken refuge in one of its diplomatic sites in Caracas after the Venezuelan foreign minister said he was hiding in the French Embassy.

“Mr. Juan Guaido is not at the French residence in Caracas,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement. “We have repeatedly confirmed this to the Venezuelan authorities.”

A French diplomatic source said that Guaido was not on any French site in the South American country.

Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza told Union Radio on Thursday that Guaido was at the French embassy and also accused Spain of hosting Leopoldo Lopez, another opponent of the government.

“It is shameful for Spanish diplomacy, it is shameful for French diplomacy what happened, and they will pay the price very, very soon,” said Arreaza.

In May, France summoned the Venezuelan envoy to charges that the government of President Nicolas Maduro had harassed his embassy in Caracas, including cutting off water and electricity at the ambassador’s residence.

France is one of dozens of countries that do not recognize the contested re-election of Maduro in 2018 and consider Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Maduro previously accused French Ambassador Romain Nadal of meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

Von der Muhll, spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added: “Only a democratic path with free, transparent and credible elections will resolve in the long term (political crisis) and put an end to the suffering of the Venezuelan people. . “

Report by John Irish; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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