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Iran supports Venezuela in face of US plots: FM Zarif

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and his Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Arreaza

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic supports the legal government in Venezuela and the country's people in the face of all plots, particularly those hatched by the United States.

The top Iranian diplomat made the remarks in a phone conversation with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Friday amid massive protests organized by the US in the Latin American country.

The Iranian and Venezuelan foreign ministers discussed possible avenues for countering the US plots against independent countries, particularly Venezuela, through international channels.

Zarif and Arreaza also exchanged views about ways to strengthen negotiations between the Venezuelan government and the opposition groups and find a political solution to the ongoing conflict between the two sides.

At least 10 countries, including Russia, Turkey and Iran, have expressed their support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and condemned outside interference in Caracas.

China, which has backed Venezuela’s sovereignty, said it opposed any outside interference. Bolivia, Mexico and Cuba all supported the Venezuelan president.

Maduro on Friday ordered the closure of Venezuela’s embassy and consulates in the US after Washington threw its weight behind opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president earlier this week.

During a lengthy speech at a special session at the Supreme Court, the Venezuelan president censured US President Donald Trump for seeking to orchestrate a coup against his government and backing the self-declared leader.

The US has a long record for “regime change” campaigns in Venezuela and other countries. In 2002, the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, was ousted for two days in a US-backed coup which was ultimately defeated.

In 1953, the CIA led a coup against Iran's first democratically-elected government and toppled Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

Maduro was sworn in for a second term earlier in January, after a vote marred by an opposition boycott and claims of vote-rigging.

Oil-rich Venezuela is currently mired in economic turmoil, with people grappling with hyperinflation, power cuts and shortages of basic items. 

Maduro and his supporters accuse the US for being behind the country’s economic crisis, saying Washington is plotting to topple the government.

On January 19, Iran's Foreign Ministry lashed out at US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for making meddlesome remarks against Venezuela, saying the Islamic Republic supports the government of the country.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran supports Venezuela’s legal government as well as its nation in the face of Washington's illegal interference," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said.

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