In answering a request for negotiations from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Pope Francis told the embattled leader he's always supported mediated settlements -- but past efforts failed because agreements weren't honored.
According to a letter published by newspaper Corriere della Sera, the pope said there were repeated mediation efforts in recent years requested by Maduro and carried out by the Vatican that failed to find an "exit to the crisis" in Venezuela.
Spain's ABC reported the Vatican declined to say whether the letter was authentic.
While dozens of countries recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's legitimate president, several others like Russia, China, Turkey, North Korea, Cuba and Mexico still recognize Maduro. The Vatican has kept a more neutral stance, although the pontiff did not address Maduro as "president" in his Feb. 7 letter.
According to National Catholic Reporter, the Vatican supports the Venezuelan bishops' conference, which recognizes Guaido as interim president.
Separately Wednesday, Italy added itself to the list of nations that recognize Guaido. The Italian Parliament held a hearing and concluded Maduro is not the president and acknowledged the National Assembly as the only legal institution in Venezuela.
This week, Guaido said large amounts of humanitarian aid are scheduled to enter Venezuela on Feb. 23 to help resolve the ongoing crisis. He said the lives of tens of thousands depend on it. Maduro has denied there's a crisis.
Guaido came to power after he was elected leader of the National Assembly last month. The assembly subsequently declared Maduro's re-election illegal and the presidency vacant. According to Venezuelan law, if the presidency is declared vacant the leadership of the National Assembly should legally take over.
Maduro has repeatedly blamed the United States as the reason behind its troubles, including the current political crisis.