Germany on Monday joined several other European countries in recognising Venezuela's opposition chief Juan Guaido as interim leader after President Nicolas Maduro rejected their ultimatum to announce new presidential elections.
"As of yesterday, no presidential election had been called," Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a visit to Tokyo.
"Therefore, Guaido is the person we are talking to and we expect him to begin an election process as soon as possible.
"He is the legitimate interim president for this task from Germany's point of view and from the point of view of several European countries.
"We hope that this process can be carried out as quickly and peacefully as possible."