Italy is explaining its refusal to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, saying it doesn't want to contribute to any "radicalization" of sides in the political crisis.

In a letter Saturday in La Stampa daily, Premier Giuseppe Conte said Italy considers Guaidó the democratically elected president of the National Assembly, and that President Nicolás Maduro has no "democratic legitimacy."

But he said the government wouldn't recognize Guaidó for "formal-juridical" reasons and "because it is aware of the risk of contributing to the radicalization of various positions and favoring a spiral of violence with the result of making conditions for the people even more dramatic."

Italy's government is divided over Venezuela between the populist 5-Star Movement and right-wing League. The U.S. and several European countries have recognized Guaidó.