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EU slaps arms sale ban on Venezuela

EUROPEAN Union foreign ministers imposed an arms sales ban on Venezuela yesterday and set up a system to direct asset freezes and travel restrictions against Venezuelan officials.

“These measures will be used in a gradual and flexible manner and can be expanded by targeting those involved in the non-respect of democratic principles or the rule of law and the violation of human rights,” the ministers said.

Sanctions could be reversed depending on how President Nicolas Maduro reacts to demands for “more democracy” and the release of political prisoners.

Before the vote was taken, Mr Maduro denounced the sanctions, advising the EU to support dialogue instead of unilateral measures.

Despite talks taking place between the Venezuelan government and representatives of the right-wing Mud opposition coalition, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis claimed that the new sanctions are “aimed at seeking dialogue between the government and the opposition to find a democratic and peaceful solution.”

Dominican President Danilo Medina, who acts as mediator, and Spanish former president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero initiated the talks in September, while 12 other Latin American nations expressed support for the dialogues taking place in the Dominican Republic.

The EU foreign ministers asserted that Venezuela’s recent regional elections were held amid “reported numerous irregularities,” ignoring 70 international observers’ attestation to their openness and smooth running such that even the opposition didn’t cry foul.

The EU sanctions run counter to calls made by Pope Francis, who has consistently advocated dialogue and a peaceful solution to Venezuela’s internal conflict.

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