(Bloomberg) — Italy’s fractious populist leaders finally reached an agreement after quarreling about the Venezuelan crisis, calling for new presidential elections but still stopping short of recognizing National Assembly leader Juan Guaido as interim president.

Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi briefed the lower house on the Rome administration’s stand, shortly after the two coalition partners, the rightist League and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, worked out a compromise.

“The government believes that the last presidential elections did not attribute democratic legitimacy to the winner, that is Nicolas Maduro,” Moavero Milanesi told lawmakers. “The Italian government demands new, democratic presidential elections in Venezuela as soon as possible.”

“The situation is complex, we need to prevent new violence and it is important to favor dialog, if possible national reconciliation,” Moavero Milanesi said.

Unlike other European countries such as Germany, France and U.K., the Italian government has not recognized Guaido as interim president. The League of Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has sided with Guaido, calling for fresh elections, while fellow Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio of Five Star has refused to recognize Guaido.

A delegation sent to Rome by Guaido took Five Star to task for its refusal to recognize him.

“We tried to meet Five Star but it was not possible, they don’t understand the suffering also of Italian nationals who don’t even get a pension,” Francisco Sucre, head of the National Assembly’s foreign committee, told reporters. “This is about protecting a population in a tremendous crisis, we have the worst refugee crisis in the history of Latin America.”

At talks in the Vatican, Edgar Pena Parra, a senior official in the Secretariat of State, pledged to support efforts for free elections, according to Rodrigo Diamanti, in charge of humanitarian aid from Europe and part of the parliamentary delegation. Pena Parra expressed “the will to do everything so that this year we can have free elections in Venezuela,” Diamanti told reporters.

Guaido had sent an open letter to the Italian people to express his dismay at the populist government’s divided position, and to appeal for Rome’s support, newspaper Corriere della Sera reported earlier Tuesday.

“With deep dismay we don’t understand the reasons for the Italian political position,” Corriere cited Guaido’s letter as saying. “I am certain that the Italian people are on our side, on the side of democracy and of justice.” The delegation sent by Guaido met Salvini and officials at the Foreign Ministry on Monday.

(Adds comments by Sucre, Diamanti in sixth, seventh paragraphs.)

To contact the reporter on this story: John Follain in Rome at jfollain2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Kevin Costelloe, Dan Liefgreen

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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