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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union foreign ministers urged Venezuelan authorities to hold elections and release political prisoners to help end six weeks of demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro that have killed dozens of people.
In the EU's most outspoken reaction yet to events in Venezuela, the ministers said 10 months of efforts to resolve the crisis were "stagnant" and elections were a way out.
"Violence and the use of force will not resolve the crisis," they said in a statement.
There was no immediate response from the Information Ministry in Caracas to a request for comment.
At least 39 people have died since April in the unrest, including protesters, government sympathizers, bystanders, and security forces. Hundreds have also been hurt and arrested.
The European Union called for "the establishment of an electoral calendar so that the people ...can express their will in a democratic way," the ministers said.
It urged "the release of jailed political opponents," after Maduro imprisoned leading opposition figures.
Some 600,000 European citizens live a country also facing its fourth year of a brutal recession.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by John Stonestreet