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US to consider lifting sanctions against Venezuela's pro-Guaido military leaders

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-02-07 14:04

Image provided by Venezuela's Presidency shows Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C) taking part in a rally in support of his government, at the Miraflores Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela, on Jan 23, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

WASHINGTON — The United States may lift sanctions against Venezuelan military leaders who support opposition leader Juan Guaido, said US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Wednesday.

"The US will consider sanctions off-ramps for any Venezuelan senior military officer that stands for democracy and recognizes the constitutional government of President Juan Guaido," Bolton tweeted.

"If not, the international financial circle will be closed off completely. Make the right choice!" he said, in an apparent attempt to pressure the Venezuelan military to abandon its loyalty to President Nicolas Maduro.

Earlier on Wednesday, Bolton tweeted that he had just met with Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo at the White House, when they "discussed pressing issues, including joint efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan people, as well as counter-terrorism collaboration."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to discuss issues including Venezuela, Iran and Russia, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the State Department's Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino.

Also on Wednesday, Pompeo accused on Twitter the Venezuelan military "under Maduro's orders" of being blocking foreign humanitarian aid "with trucks and shipping tankers."

US President Donald Trump will welcome Colombian President Ivan Duque to the White House on Feb. 13, when the two top leaders will discuss "strategic partnerships in regional security, and efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela," according to the White House on Wednesday.

Trump said on Jan 23 that the United States had recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation's "interim president," a move that came after Maduro was inaugurated as president of the Latin American country earlier that month.

Trump has also warned that "all options are on the table" regarding Venezuela.

In response, Maduro announced he was severing "diplomatic and political" ties with the United States, commanding all the US diplomatic and consular personnel to leave the country in 72 hours and accusing Washington of orchestrating "an operation to impose, through a coup d'etat, a puppet regime in Venezuela."

For years, the United States has been implementing diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions against Venezuela. Right before Maduro's inauguration on Jan 10, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on seven Venezuelan individuals and 23 entities, accusing them of involvement in a corruption scheme.

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