Venezuela's Maduro hails 'new era' in relations with Turkey
ANKARA - Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro hailed a "new era" in relations with Turkey after being welcomed by counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at his Ankara palace, saying both countries believed in a different, multi-polar world.
Maduro, who has been shunned by the West and faced deadly protests against his rule this spring, was making the first state visit by a Venezuelan president to Turkey, after holding talks in Belarus and Russia in the last days.
"We want to open a new era in relations between Venezuela and Turkey," Maduro said in a joint statement with Erdogan after their talks.
"We believe in a different kind of world. We believe in a better world. This is not just possible, it's necessary," he said.
"We want to sketch out a new era for the world. A multi-polar world where everyone can find their place."
Venezuela has been going through months of upheaval with critics accusing the leftist Maduro of a naked power grab in July with the formation of a Constituent Assembly packed with his allies.
A wave of protests between April and July left some 125 people dead. Maduro has been accused by the opposition of leading a "savage repression".
The unrest comes as Venezuela suffers an intense economic crisis as falling oil prices whittle down the country's main source of revenue.
Commenting on the strife in Venezuela, Erdogan said there was "nothing superior to the will of the people" and warned that "external intervention" usually made problems worse.
"We hope that Venezuela will find a solution to its problems through sense, dialogue and reconciliation," he added.
Washington had slapped sanctions on Venezuela and US President Donald Trump has urged the European Union to follow suit in "sanctioning the Maduro regime."
Erdogan said Turkey planned to build a mosque in Caracas and hailed flag-carrier Turkish Airlines for keeping flights going to the capital when other airlines stopped.
"Turkish Airlines has not left the Venezuelan public alone," he said.
With ties fraying between NATO ally the United States as well as the European Union, Erdogan has in recent years sought to enliven relations with Latin America, a region where in the past Ankara had little influence.