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Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza (L) walks with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing on December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Nicolas Asfouri/Pool

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BEIJING (Reuters) - A country's right to choose its own development path must be respected, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Venezuelan counterpart on Friday, offering support for the strife-torn Latin American nation.

The OPEC member is locked in a deep political and economic crisis, with more than 125 people killed during months of opposition protests earlier this year, drawing condemnation from the United States and Europe.

Meeting in Beijing, Wang told Jorge Arreaza that stability in Venezuela was not only in his own people's interests, it was also the common wish of the international community, including China, China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"China wishes that Venezuela maintains its trend of returning to stability, and encourages the resolution of the problems that exist via dialogue and consultation within a legal framework," the ministry cited Wang as saying.

"Every country's right to go down a development path that accords with its national conditions should be respected," he added.

China and oil-rich Venezuela have a close diplomatic and business relationship, especially in energy. China has repeatedly brushed off widespread condemnation from the United States, Europe and others about the situation in the country.

Last month, China, along with Russia, Egypt and Bolivia, boycotted an informal public U.N. Security Council meeting on Venezuela organised by the United States.

On Wednesday, Venezuela's pro-government legislative superbody ruled that parties which boycotted this month's local elections had lost legitimacy, potentially eliminating the main opposition groups from the 2018 presidential race.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Reuters