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Trump threatens Venezuela with military intervention

Trump threatens Venezuela with military intervention

The Trump administration has slapped a series of sanctions against Maduro and more than two-dozen current and former officials in response to a crackdown on opposition leaders and the recent election of a pro-government assembly tasked with rewriting the country's constitution.

President Donald Trump warned Friday that US military resources were in place, "locked and loaded", should North Korea "act unwisely", as foreign leaders called on Washington and Pyongyang to end a cycle of rhetorical threats raising the specter of nuclear war. "But a military operation, a military option, is certainly something we could pursue", he responded.

"There is an extremist elite in the USA government", he added, "and I really don't know what is happening and what will happen in the world".

Regional alliance Mercosur added that it rejected the use of force against Venezuela, despite having indefinitely suspended the country last week amid global condemnation of Maduro's new, all-powerful "constituent Assembly".

Violent demonstrations since April have left more than 120 people dead.

Maduro and his loyalists have long claimed that the United States is planning to invade the Socialist state. There is also concern that Maduro could use Trump's heated rhetoric to broaden a crackdown on the opposition, accusing it of acting as a virtual fifth column to sabotage his rule.

Venezuela is facing its worst political crisis in decades.

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The timing of Trump's remarks could not be worse, coming on the eve of a four-nation Latin America trip by Vice President Mike Pence meant to showcase how Washington and regional partners can work together to promote democracy in the hemisphere. "Provocative statements by @realDonaldTrump on North Korea and Venezuela are reckless", said Rep. Ted Lieu.

Mr. Trump made the comments in a tweet early Friday from a working vacation at his golf course in New Jersey.

Vice President Mike Pence kicks off a four-nation tour of Latin America on Sunday with a stop in Colombia, whose government - the staunchest USA ally in South America - was quick to distance itself from Trump's remarks even while reiterating its concerns about a breakdown of democracy in Venezuela.

"The time has come for worldwide organizations and multilateral forums in the region and in the world to reaffirm the validity of the norms of global law and to curb the most aggressive action of the U.S. empire against the Venezuelan people in more than a hundred years".

Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna said in a statement that it condemned "all foreign or domestic threats to resort to force undermine the goal of reinstating democratic governance in Venezuela, as well as the principles enshrined in the United Nations charter".

Arreaza closed by reiterating Maduro's interest to have a conversation with Trump.

Later that day the White House issued a statement saying that Mr Trump had refused to take a phone call from Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro.


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