Jeremy Corbyn has condemned violence “by all sides” in the Venezuelan crisis but has refused to personally criticise President Nicolas Maduro as the South American country slides into crisis.
The Labour leader is facing mounting pressure to backtrack from his description of Mr Maduro as “an inspiration” three years ago.
Socialist Mr Maduro faces accusations he is moving towards a dictatorship after he created a new super-assembly stuffed with supporters – including his own wife and son – after an election that was widely decried as tampered.
He has also staged a brutal crackdown on opposition figures and moved to remove prominent critics in recent days.
Mr Corbyn today insisted that it was essential to recognise the “effective and serious attempts” to reduce poverty, improve literacy and the lives of the poorest in Venezuela despite the current crisis.
Asked whether he condemned Mr Maduro’s actions, Mr Corbyn said: “What I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides, in all this.
“Violence is not going to solve the issue.”
Pressed on whether he regretted supporting Mr Maduro when he was elected, he said: “I gave the support of many people around the world for the principle of a government that was dedicated towards reducing inequality and improving the life chances of the poorest people.”
Mr Corbyn said the current crisis was largely sparked by a failure to diversify the economy away from a on over-dependence on oil.
He called for “a dialogue and a process that respects the independence of the judiciary and respects the human rights of all” to resolve the current crisis.
And he added: “There has to be respect for the constitution and respect for the independence of the judiciary.”
Mr Maduro has been accused of behaving like the “dictator of an evil regime” by the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
And the Venezuelan leader has also been condemned as running a “dictatorship” by the US.