The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) on Friday called off next week’s meeting of its 48 member countries in China after Beijing refused to allow a representative of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to attend, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.
The decision was made in Washington on Friday at a meeting of the executive board of the IADB, Latin America’s largest development lender, after China refused to change its position, the sources said.
The board would vote within 30 days to reschedule the annual meeting for another date and location, they said.
On Thursday, the US threatened to derail the meeting unless Beijing granted a visa to Guaido’s representative, Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann.
The meeting, scheduled to bring together finance and development ministers from the lender’s members, was meant to mark the bank’s 60th anniversary.
Guaido in January declared himself interim president of Venezuela, saying that the re-election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was not legitimate.
Most Western countries have recognized Guaido as head of state, but Russia and China, among others, back Maduro.
One source, speaking on condition of anonymity, on Thursday told reporters that China had proposed that no representative from either Maduro’s or Guaido’s camps attend the meeting to “depoliticize” the gathering.
In a statement posted later on its Web site, the IADB confirmed that the meeting would not take place from Thursday to Saturday next week in Chengdu, China, as planned, but it did not give a reason.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it regretted the decision, but bore no responsibility.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said that China “had difficulty allowing” Guaido’s representative to attend, because Guaido himself lacked legal standing.
“Changing Venezuela’s representative at the IADB won’t help solve Venezuela’s problems, and [the proposal] damaged the atmosphere of the IADB annual meeting and disturbed preparations for the meeting,” Geng said.
The Washington-based IADB was the first multilateral lender to replace a Maduro-selected representative with one backed by Guaido. The move would eventually open lines of credit to Venezuela should Maduro step down.
The IMF and World Bank have not decided on whether to officially recognize Guaido as head of state.
Had the annual meeting taken place next week, it would have been the first time the IADB held it in China.
The Asian country has become a major player in Latin America and has poured more than US$50 billion into Venezuela over the past decade in oil-for-loan agreements.
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