Bucharest, January 31: EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini called Thursday for the immediate release of journalists arrested in Venezuela as part of a crackdown by Caracas on foreign media.
"Our request is for them to be immediately released," Mogherini told reporters in Bucharest, where EU foreign ministers will discuss the Venezuela crisis.
Five foreign journalists, including two from France and one from Spain, have been held in Venezuela this week, and two more, from Chile, have been deported. Russian Fighter Jets in Venezuela Raise Tensions Between Kremlin, US.
The arrests come with the oil-rich but economically wrecked South American state deep in political turmoil, with the self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido calling on the armed forces to abandon President Nicolas Maduro.
Ahead of the Bucharest meeting, Britain's foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said he would press his EU colleagues for new sanctions against what he called Venezuelan "kleptocrats" as a way to step up pressure on Maduro.
Guaido himself has called for more EU sanctions targeting the Maduro regime. No quick decision is expected as the legal basis for any sanctions would take some time to prepare.
Mogherini reiterated the EU's call for new elections in Venezuela. The bloc has warned it will "take further actions" if new elections are not called in the coming days. Several EU states including Spain, Britain, France and Germany have been more explicit, saying they will recognise Guaido as Venezuela's leader if new polls are not called by Sunday.