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AFP
March 15, 2019

Envoys walk out of UN conference in Venezuela protest

World

AFP
March 15, 2019

VIENNA: Diplomats on Thursday walked out of a UN convention on drugs addressed by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, saying his government was illegitimate and did not represent the country.

Dozens of officials from Latin America, as well as the US, Canada and some European countries, including France, left the room in protest as Arreaza took the podium for the meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna.

"The members of the Venezuela delegation here today represent the illegitimate government of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, and thus cannot be considered as speaking on behalf of the Venezuelan people," a spokesperson of the US Mission to International Organizations said in a statement after the walk-out.

Multiple diplomats including from Latin America and Europe had staged a walk-out late last month during an Arreaza address to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, when he called for direct talks between Maduro and US President Donald Trump about the country’s crisis.

Arreaza said in his speech in Vienna on Thursday that the drug epidemic could only be combated multilaterally, adding that US "unilateral economic steps" have cost the country billions, diverting funds from the fight against drugs.

"Today the multilateral model of world affairs is under threat and the situation of Venezuela is an example of this... The government of the US has threatened our people with a military aggression, with a use of force violating the UN charter," he said. The CND started meeting on Thursday to discuss the world drug problem.

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