Biden, Latin American Leaders Discuss Venezuela

Image: Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden, in Chile to attend newly sworn-in President Michelle Bachelet's inauguration, discussed the situation in Venezuela with other Latin American leaders, according to a senior Administration official. Luis Hidalgo / AP

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Vice President Joe Biden has been discussing the "difficult situation" in Venezuela with other Latin American leaders who were in Chile Tuesday to attend Michelle Bachelet's presidential nomination. The discussions, according to a senior U.S. administration official, include the possibility of mediation by a third country.

Biden said human rights, including the right to protest, has to be respected.

Biden stood by remarks to Chile's El Mercurio newspaper in which he suggested Venezuela's government is using "armed vigilantes" against peaceful protesters and accused it of "concocting false and outlandish conspiracy theories" of U.S. involvement in the demonstrations.

Venezuelan officials have repeatedly rejected the idea of having another country mediate in their dispute with protesters. Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro described Biden's remarks to El Mercurio as "aggression," and has accused the U.S. of backing opponents trying to undermine "a solid democracy that has had the popular backing in 18 elections over 15 years."

--Associated Press