Peru to Maduro: You're still not welcome at Summit of Americas

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with the ministers responsible for the economic sector at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela March 22, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Bello

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru’s new foreign minister said on Tuesday that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was still not welcome to attend a regional summit in Lima next week, upholding a decision by Peru’s disgraced former president.

U.S. President Donald Trump and heads of state from across the Western Hemisphere plan to travel to Peru for the Summit of the Americas, which will celebrate the theme “democratic governance fighting corruption” from April 13-14.

In his first speech as Peru’s foreign minister, Nestor Popolizio said Peru’s decision not to invite Maduro to the event reflects the view of a dozen countries that have been pressuring Venezuela to hold free and fair elections.

Maduro’s refusal to heed calls for democratic reforms “negates even the slightest notion of democracy and represents an insurmountable impediment to taking part in the Summit of the Americas,” Popolizio said before a crowd of diplomats and journalists in the foreign ministry.

“This is a firm decision that is not up for revision,” Popolizio said.

Maduro has vowed to attend the Summit of the Americas despite Peru’s ban, which the center-right government of former president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski announced in February. Maduro says Latin America’s right-leaning governments are part of a U.S.-led international conspiracy to topple him and take control of Venezuela’s oil resources.

Kuczynski had been one of Maduro’s most outspoken critics, calling him a “dictator” and demanding he step down.

But Kuczynski resigned after a scandal last month and was replaced by his vice president, Martin Vizcarra. Vizcarra declined to weigh in on Maduro and the summit last week, saying he would leave it up to the foreign ministry.

Reporting By Reuters TV and Mitra Taj, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien