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Diplomats Walk Out as Venezuela Hits US in UN Speech

UN Secretary-General António Guterres (right) meets with Jorge Arreaza, Minister of the People’s Power for Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on 24 April at UN Headquarters in New York- UN Photo by Eskinder Debebe

Several dozen diplomats walked out from the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday to protest a speech by Venezuela’s foreign minister, who denounced U.S. calls on the world body to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza took the General Assembly rostrum in the name of the Non-Aligned Movement as part of a special U.N. session devoted to the value of multilateralism. 

Walking out were between 30 and 40 diplomats from the Lima Group, the coalition of Latin American nations and Canada that have nearly all recognized Guaido and declared the leftist Nicolas Maduro to be illegitimate after widely criticized elections.

In his speech, Arreaza accused the United States of wanting to “impose a dictatorship” at the United Nations through its “blatant attempt to expel or withdraw recognition of the credentials of member-states with full rights such as Venezuela.”

“This is discriminatory and unacceptable,” he told the session, in which the United States was not participating.

United Nations – Venezuela

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled earlier this month to the United Nations where he denounced Maduro as a  “dictator,” part of a U.S. push for the world body to recognize Guaido instead.

Venezuela is facing the worst crisis in its modern history with inflation expecting to soar a mind-boggling 10 million percent this year, contributing to a shortage of basic goods that has caused more than 2.7 million people to flee since 2015, according to the United Nations. 

Iran, another nation under heavy U.S. pressure, also appealed at the U.N. session for more multilateralism.

Secretary-General António Guterres (right) meets with Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 24 April at UN Headquarter in New York- UN Photo by Eskinder Debebe

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced the “unlawful, unilateralist policies” of President Donald Trump, ranging from withdrawing from a European-backed denuclearization deal with Iran to threatening the International Criminal Court for taking up accusations of war crimes against U.S. troops.

“To defend multilateralism, it is imperative to deny the U.S. any perceived benefit from its unlawful actions and to forcefully reject any pressure it brings to bear on others to violate international law and Security Council resolutions,” Zarif said- VOA

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