Trudeau speaks with Venezuelan leader Guaido ahead of key meeting of allies

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says he has spoken with the man Canada and many of its allies consider the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

Trudeau’s office says he spoke with Juan Guaido about the need for countries to send a clear message about what the PMO calls ”the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime.”

A statement from the PMO says the two also discussed the need to respect Venezuela’s constitution and to have free and fair presidential elections.

The call comes a day before Canada and its allies in the so-called Lima Group are set to meet in Ottawa.

The gathering of more than a dozen of Canada’s Western Hemisphere allies is meant to find new ways to support the Venezuelan opposition and ease the refugee crisis in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia

The agenda was still being finalized on Friday, in part because of the speed at which the Venezuelan crisis is unfolding.

Canada has already contributed $2.2 million for the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela that has forced three million people from their homes.

Trudeau’s office says he told Guaido that Monday’s meeting will look at any ways countries can “can further support the people of Venezuela, including through immediate humanitarian assistance.

“The prime minister commended Juan Guaido for his courage and leadership in helping to return democracy to Venezuela and offered Canada’s continued support,” the statement says.

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