UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Wednesday said that he "is saddened by continuing reports of violence and loss of life amid protests in Venezuela," calling for urgent efforts made to lower the tensions and prevent further violence in the Latin American country.
The secretary-general "has taken note of the calls for dialogue made by President Nicolas Maduro and other Venezuelans," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman. "He hopes for concrete gestures by all parties to reduce polarization and create the necessary conditions to engage in a meaningful dialogue so that calm can be fully restored in the country as soon as possible."
Ban also called for the protection of the human rights of all Venezuelans and appealed to Venezuelans, regardless of their political perspective, to voice differences and grievances peacefully and in accordance with the law, and to seek common ground, according to the statement.
The often violent anti-government protests against the government of President Maduro have left 13 people dead and 149 others injured since they broke out on Feb. 12 in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas and several other cities.
Maduro on Monday met with opposition party mayors and governors, with the notable exclusion of main opposition leader and former presidential candidate and Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles.
Some 83 percent of Venezuelans condemn the violence-marred protests that have rocked the country over the past two weeks, according to a poll released Tuesday.