Italy backs humanitarian aid to Venezuela

Italy backs humanitarian aid to Venezuela

The Italian government strongly supports the despatch and distribution of "vital" humanitarian aid to crisis-hit Venezuela, foreign minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi told lawmakers on Tuesday.

"The government is absolutely in favour of the arrival and distribution of humanitarian aid, which is essential given the tragedy afflicting the Venezuelan people," Moavero told Italy's lower house of parliament.

Italy deplores the current escalation of violence and political repression in Venezuela and wants to avert the prospect of a civil war, he said.

"We strongly condemn every kind of violence and repression by the regime and the worsening conflict which could soon deteriorate further," Moaovero said.

"A possible civil war must be prevented," he said.

In a joint statement earlier on Tuesday, the partners in Italy's ruling populist coalition - the grassroots 5 Star Movement and the far-right League party - urged free and fair presidential polls in Venezuela "as soon as possible".

The statement also urged leftist president Nicolas Maduro's government to safeguard Italians and Italian companies in Venezuela and to tackle chronic food shortages and hyperinflation "guaranteeing the necessary flow of aid inaccordance with international law".

Moavero and League leader and interior minister Matteo Salvini on Monday held talks with a delegation of Venezuelan opposition members following a letter form opposition leader Juan Guiado.

Guiado's letter asked for a meeting in which he and the delegation of Venezuelan opposition politicians could set out their plan to restore democracy in Venezuela through a fresh presidential election.