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Foreign Minister: Peru May Sever Ties with Venezuela to Protest Vote


FILE - Peru's Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna Mendoza attends a meeting of the "Alianza del Pacifico" (Pacific Alliance) summit in Vina del Mar, Chile, March 15, 2017.

Peru may sever diplomatic ties with Venezuela to protest Sunday's election of a legislative superbody in the country that has been widely criticized as undemocratic, Peruvian Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna said on Thursday.

Luna said Peru wanted to discuss appropriate measures with his regional counterparts in a meeting set for Tuesday before acting unilaterally, however.

Peru called for the meeting as Venezuelans broadly boycotted Sunday's election of a constituent assembly, designed to enhance the powers of leftist President Nicolas Maduro.

Asked by reporters if Peru has ruled out cutting diplomatic ties with Venezuela, Luna said, "Not at all. All options are on the table."

"We're going to see how other countries taking part in the meeting feel and, depending on that, see what can be done collectively," said Luna. "That doesn't tie our hands or condition any unilateral decision that we might take."

Peru has said it expects foreign ministers from Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Paraguay to attend Tuesday's meeting in Lima.

Maduro has become increasingly isolated as an economic crisis and political crisis deepens in his once prosperous OPEC nation. About 120 people have been killed during anti-government protests in recent months.

Countries around the world have condemned the constituent assembly as a bid to extend Maduro's rule indefinitely and give him unbridled power. Maduro says the creation of the political body was necessary to address an unprecedented economic decline and help restore peace in the volatile country.

No nation has cut ties with Venezuela in response to the vote so far. But Peru has been one of the region's most outspoken critics of Maduro's government since President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a conservative economist and former Wall Street banker, took office a year ago.

Peru recalled its ambassador to Venezuela in March after the country's Supreme Court took over the opposition-led congress, ut the move was later reversed.

Maduro has denounced criticism from Peru and other countries as part of "imperialist aggression" orchestrated by U.S. President Donald Trump.

"The president of Peru has called for a meeting in Lima on Tuesday to prepare an economic, political, diplomatic and military aggression against Venezuela," Maduro said on Wednesday.

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