French President Macron meets Venezuela's opposition figures in Paris

© Thibault Camus, Pool, AFP | France's President Emmanuel Macron (R) meets with the President of the Venezuelan parliament, Julio Borges (L), on September 4, 2017, at the Élysée Palace in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron has met with senior figures of Venezuela's opposition who are on a self-styled "European tour" to rally international pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro's government has been criticised by the United Nations, Washington and other governments for failing to allow the entry of foreign humanitarian aid to ease a severe economic crisis, for overriding Venezuela's opposition-led Congress and jailing hundreds of opponents.

"I stressed the urgency of opening up the door to humanitarian aid in Venezuela," Congress President Julio Borges said, adding that Macron had said he was eager to help and that sending aid was an option. "We want the government of Maduro to open the door to this humanitarian help," Borges said.

The opposition won control of congress in 2015. But Maduro's loyalist Supreme Court has tossed out every law it has passed as the oil-rich country slips deeper into a recession exacerbated by triple-digit inflation and acute shortages of food and medicines. Maduro has said he is facing an "armed insurrection" designed to end socialism in Latin America and let a US-backed business elite get its hands on the OPEC nation's massive crude reserves.

Macron last week said that Maduro's administration was "a dictatorship trying to survive at the cost of unprecedented humanitarian distress".

Macron, who did not speak to reporters after the meeting, last week also criticised the government after human rights activist Lilian Tintori, the wife of Venezuela's best-known detained political leader was barred from flying out of the country to go to Paris, Madrid, Berlin and London.

"Although they did not let me leave the country, they cannot silence the voice of 30 million Venezuelans," Tintori said on her Twitter account, adding that Congress Vice President Freddy Guevara had given Macron a letter from her.

The situation in Venezuela has a particular resonance in France, where the far-left La France Insoumise (Unsubmissive France) party, currently Macron's most vocal opponent, backs Maduro.

Maduro is expected to address the opening day of a three-week UN Human Rights Council session on September 11.

Borges tweeted over the weekend that he will also meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the coming days.


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