France would back as Venezuela president whoever wins democratic vote: official

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PARIS, Jan 24 (Reuters) - France would recognise as president of Venezuela whoever wins a democratic vote, an official said, after President Emmanuel Macron hailed the courage of Venezuelans marching for freedom but stopped short of backing opposition leader Juan Guaido.

"Our intention is to encourage a democratic process in Venezuela. France would recognise whoever is elected at the end of such a process," an official at Macron's office said when asked what it would take for France to recognise Guaido.

Macron called President Nicolas Maduro's 2018 election illegitimate.

Guaido proclaimed himself interim president on Wednesday, winning backing from Washington and parts of Latin America and prompting socialist Maduro to break relations with the United States.

The official declined to comment on whether France was seeking tougher Europeans sanctions on Venezuela. (Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Richard Lough)