August 21, 2019 / 2:27 AM / a month ago

Argentina's Fernandez says would join Mexico, Uruguay in promoting talks with Venezuela's Maduro

FILE PHOTO: Presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez speaks during the primary elections, at a cultural centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentine presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez said on Tuesday that if he wins the October election he would join Mexico and Uruguay in promoting dialogue with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The potential foreign policy shift in Latin America’s third largest economy would end nearly four years of strident criticism of Maduro under Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who like most regional leaders have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader.

Fernandez trounced Macri in a primary vote earlier this month that serves as a preview to the October election, setting the stage for a potential political shift in South America if Argentina returns to leftist rule under Fernandez, joining Venezuela, Uruguay and Bolivia.

In an interview with local channel 13, Fernandez criticized regional demands for Maduro to step down and praised Mexico and Uruguay for promoting talks between Maduro and the opposition.

“I’d join them to try to help to find a solution for Venezuela, one that Venezuelans themselves find,” Fernandez said. “I don’t agree with all those proposals that part of Latin American rallied behind Trump on.”

Venezuela’s opposition and Washington said that Maduro is only taking part in talks to buy time and have demanded Maduro step down in order to hold elections, charging him with stealing last year’s vote.

Fernandez’ running mate, Cristina Fernandez, governed Argentina as president for eight years and was once an ideological ally of Maduro.

Fernandez distanced himself from Maduro in the interview, however, expressing concern about a recent report by U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, which found that Venezuelan security forces were sending death squads to murder opponents.

“It’s extremely serious. No one can ignore a report like that,” Fernandez said. “This is a government whose rule has become arbitrary.”

Reporting By Gabriel Burin, Writing By Mitra Taj

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