Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated Friday his country's firm support for Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.
Lavrov met with high level officials, including Maduro and Vice President Delcy Rodriguez in a visit to Venezuela for the first time since 2011.
'We reiterate our support for the legitimate President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. We also welcome the president's initiative to open the dialogue tables to all sectors of the country,' said Lavrov.
Lavrov also met 'National Dialogue' representatives and referred to 'unacceptable, illegal,' U.S. sanctions against the Latin American nation, Telesur television station reported.
'Unfortunately, the crisis Venezuela is going through comes from a campaign led by the United States to overthrow the legitimate government chaired by President Nicolas Maduro,' Lavrov said during the meeting, after hailing the normalization initiatives of the National Dialogue Round Table.
'Venezuela's National Dialogue is open to all political parties. It is clear that radical opponents are allergic to these events,' Lavrov said, while stressing U.S. restrictions are aimed at starting a 'popular uprising' in Venezuela.
Lavrov said the two allies agreed to enhance cooperation on a wide range of fronts despite the ongoing 'illegal blockades.'
'The agreements we achieve are about education, industrial, military logistic and economics,' Lavrov added.
In an apparent criticism of Juan Guaido, who declared himself the self-proclaimed President of Venezuela, Lavrov said, 'we are convinced certain politicians' ambitions should not prevail over the people's interests.'
A day earlier, Maduro addressed U.S. President Donald Trump in a video after he hosted Guaido at the White House and referred to him as the leader of Venezuela.
Maduro urged Trump to stop his 'sick obsession' with Venezuela. 'Donald Trump, you can't beat Venezuela. Venezuela is not crushed, nor is it broken by anyone,' Maduro said in a video shared by Telesur.
Russia and Venezuela also agreed to convene in May for an intergovernmental commission on trade and economy, according to a news release from Lavrov.
'All aspects of our material and practical cooperation will be reviewed at the session of the high-level commission,' according to the statement.
By Vakkas Dogantekin