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Military intervention not an answer for Venezuela - Colombia president tells paper

MILAN (Reuters) - A military intervention in Venezuela is not the way to resolve the crisis in the country, Colombia’s President Ivan Duque said in an interview in Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore published on Friday.

Colombia's President Ivan Duque speaks during a meeting of the Lima Group in Bogota, Colombia, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

Venezuela plunged into a deep political crisis in January when Juan Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled congress, invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing Nicolas Maduro’s 2018 re-election was not legitimate.

“I do not think the solution is a military intervention,” Duque told the newspaper, when asked about any proposed intervention, especially by the United States.

President Donald Trump has taken steps to ratchet up pressure on Maduro and bolster Guaido, recognised by the United States and more than 50 other countries, including Colombia. But Washington has dismissed as baseless suggestions it is planning to intervene militarily.

Earlier this week the United States blamed Russia for causing Venezuela’s crisis by supporting Maduro. Russia and China have stood by Maduro’s government.

Duque said a stable Venezuela was in the interests of Russia, as well as China.

He said the international community needed to do more to convince certain members of the Venezuelan army to come over to what he called the right side.

“We hope Russia can modify its political stance so that institutional order is restored in Venezuela,” he said.

Duque said he believed a Marshall plan was needed for Venezuela with resources of more than $40 billion (30.2 billion pounds) to rebuild the country.

Colombia, which borders on Venezuela, has taken in more than 1 million refugees in less than two years, Duque said.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Alison Williams