The Latest: Venezuela top court targets opposition leaders

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

A mostly European group of nations is looking to send a high-level delegation to Caracas in the coming days to propose solutions to Venezuela’s protracted crisis.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini made the announcement in Costa Rica Tuesday at the conclusion of the third meeting of the so-called International Contact Group. The group is comprised of the E.U., eight of its member states and three Latin American countries. It was set up in January after opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself president in a direct challenge to Nicolas Maduro’s rule.

Mogherini didn’t provide any details but reiterated the group’s goal of facilitating free and transparent presidential elections as soon as possible. Still, she cautioned that any solution would require the support of the parties inside Venezuela and said that she didn’t know if Maduro is willing to call new elections.

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2:25 p.m.

Venezuela’s pro-government Supreme Court has opened a criminal investigation against seven opposition lawmakers in the aftermath of a failed attempt to spark a military uprising against President Nicolas Maduro.

The nation’s highest court announced Tuesday that the lawmakers are suspected of “betraying the homeland” and “instigating an insurrection,” among other charges.

The lawmakers facing accusations include prominent opposition legislators such as Henry Ramos Allup and Luis German Florido.

The action comes one week after opposition leader Juan Guaidó urged soldiers to join the opposition and remove Maduro from power.

Maduro has sought to reassert his authority in the aftermath of the failed uprising attempt by cracking down on those suspected of participating.

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12:20 p.m.

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Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress is meeting to discuss a proposal for Venezuela’s return to a regional defense agreement that dates from the Cold War. It’s a move that could provide political cover for greater international involvement in the nation’s crisis.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said they are considering military “options” in the Venezuelan crisis in addition to diplomatic and economic pressure that has been intensifying for months against the government of socialist President Nicolás Maduro.

Military police prevented journalists from entering the National Assembly Tuesday, and some reporters were harassed by government supporters outside the building.

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