Peru condemns Venezuela force threat, preparing regional statement

Peru's Foreign Affair Minister Ricardo Luna talks to Reuters during an interview in Lima, Peru, August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru condemns the threatened use of force in Venezuela and is negotiating a written response with other nations in the region, Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna said in a statement sent exclusively to Reuters on Saturday.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday threatened military intervention in Venezuela, a surprise escalation of Washington’s response to the nation’s political crisis. Caracas disparaged the threat as “craziness.”

Peru under President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has taken the toughest stance toward Venezuela’s socialist regime as President Nicolas Maduro seeks to consolidate power and crack down on anti-government protests and unrest that have left 120 dead since April.

But the day after expelling Venezuela’s ambassador in Lima, Peru said force is not the answer.

“All foreign or domestic threats to resort to force undermine the goal of reinstating democratic governance in Venezuela, as well as the principles enshrined in the UN charter,” Luna’s statement said.

Venezuelan authorities have long said U.S. officials were planning an invasion, and Maduro has accused Latin American countries critical of his government of being part of an “imperialist” conspiracy. A former military general told Reuters earlier this year that some anti-aircraft missiles had been placed along the country’s coast because of that possibility.

Reporting by Mitra Taj; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn